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Drunk, lost man finds kindness in strange home

A Maryland resident goes to bed in the wrong house. The homeowners decline to press charges.

October 26, 2008|Dan Morse | Morse writes for the Washington Post.

WASHINGTON — There's drunk confusion, and then there's the place a 50-year-old Montgomery County, Md., man found himself: in the wrong bed in the wrong house.

There's forgiveness, and then there's the kindness shown by the family who found him there.

The story begins the night of Sept. 27, when Bob and Joanne Breiner of Gaithersburg returned home after eating at a Chinese buffet.

Bob Breiner walked upstairs to the master bedroom and flipped on a lamp. Less than two feet away was a man he'd never seen, wrapped in blankets, sound asleep. On the floor were shoes, socks and pants. And before he went to bed, the man had apparently helped himself to a crab cake from the refrigerator.

The Breiners fled their house and called police. Officers made their way to the bedroom.

"What," the intruder asked police, "are you doing in my house?" the Breiners recalled last week.

Montgomery police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said, "The man had been drinking and returned to what he thought was his home and climbed into bed and went to sleep."

He had missed by eight miles, apparently getting off at the wrong bus stop on his way home to Damascus.

Gingerly, he made his way down the stairs, holding the banister in one hand and his shoes and socks in the other.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," the Breiners recalled him saying. "By the way, you have a very comfortable bed."

One of the officers asked him whether, upon entering the house and seeing a white Persian cat, he realized that he was at the wrong place.

"I thought maybe my wife had gone out and gotten another cat," he told the officer, the Breiners said.

After the Breiners found out that their intruder had no police record and that he had lost his job three weeks earlier, they told officers that they didn't want to press charges.

Joanne Breiner, who teaches English as a second language at a middle school, headed into her kitchen. She packed a container of homemade chicken soup, homemade cookies and some spareribs into a plastic grocery bag , giving the food to police and telling them to pass it on to the man.

Police declined to release the intruder's name because he wasn't charged. The man's wife retrieved him, leaving the Breiners to piece together some of the details.

They said their 16-year-old son was the last one out of the house, and he apparently left the front door unlocked.

When they got home, before Bob Breiner headed upstairs, Joanne Breiner noticed crumbs on the kitchen counter and saw that a crab cake was missing.

She questioned her husband and her son, who denied responsibility in a way that Joanne Breiner said she believed. That left her confused as she wiped down the counter.

Things could have ended up differently if the intruder had stumbled in a few hours later. Bob Breiner, a podiatrist, practices krav maga, a form of mixed martial arts taught by the Israeli army.

"We use a lot of elbows to the head, knees to the stomach and kicks to the groin," he said.

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