EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 9, 2013

Home invasion victims recognized mask gunman as a family acquaintance

Invasion: Police arrest alleged masked gunman

By Mark E. Vogler

---- — LAWRENCE — Police say the victims of an armed home invasion on Melrose Street early yesterday were able to identify one of the masked intruders who robbed them of $4,000 in cash after recognizing his voice as a family acquaintance who visited their house frequently.

Police requested that The Eagle-Tribune not release the victims’ names for their own protection.

One, a 16-year-old girl, was also able to provide police a photo and full name of Todd Muir because he had recently added her as a friend to his Facebook page, Lawrence police Officer Angel M. Lopez noted in his report.

A 49-year-old woman who had been bashed in the head with a gun several times before being threatened at gunpoint and dragged by her hair told police she had no doubts about the man who ordered her to “Give me the money or I will kill you,” according to Officer Lopez.

The woman said that Muir had been around enough times, that when he spoke, she knew his voice, according to the report.

Based on the photo and the voice recognition, police obtained an arrest warrant for Muir, 27, of 2 Blaisdell St., Apartment 2, Haverhill. State and Haverhill police later arrested Muir at his apartment where he had barricaded himself in, according to police.

Muir was being held last night without bail at the Haverhill Police Station. He was due to be arraigned at Lawrence District Court Monday on numerous violent charges, including three counts of armed home invasion, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm.

“We were able to make a quick arrest in this case because the family was familiar with him,” Lawrence police Chief John Romero said in an interview yesterday. “When there’s a home invasion, usually it’s not random. There’s a reason why a place is targeted. We believe the money was the motive here and this individual had knowledge that the victims kept money in their home.”

Police are seeking at least one other suspect involved in the home invasion, according to Chief Romero.

The woman who was beaten in the head with the butt of a gun told police she was watching television in her living room shortly after 1 a.m. when she heard a knock at the front door. She thought it was a friend.

But when she opened the door, she observed two masked men dressed in black, she told police.

“She tried closing the door but her wrist was slapped out of the doorway by the end (butt) of the gun. The door was then forcefully pushed open and the two masked men rushed into the apartment,” Officer Lopez wrote in his report.

Once inside, the man with the gun beat the woman on the head with gun several times and threatened to kill her if she didn’t give them the money, the woman told police.

“The male with the gun forced her upstairs and she led them to the bathroom closet and handed them the pouch containing approximately $4,000 in cash,” according to Officer Lopez. An ambulance took the woman to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Once the intruders snatched the pouch away from the woman, they kicked her bedroom door open and ran downstairs and out of the apartment.

The twin sisters who also live in the apartment told police they were awakened by a commotion downstairs and saw the masked gun men, then locked themselves in the bedroom.