Reward offered but no suspects, no solid leads in Tuesday Potsdam home invasion and assault
By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – A $1,000 reward is being offered by a member of the family that suffered a home invasion and assault Tuesday evening in a cabin off of State Rt. 56 south of the village.
So far no suspects have been identified and there are no solid leads in the case, but Det. Sgt. Tom Caringi of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office says the case is “active and open. We’re checking with neighbors and surveillance video” from the vicinity that might have caught something they can work with.Mary Widmann was home when two men brandishing handguns walked in somewhere around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“They just walked in wearing masks and gloves with guns out,” demanding marijuana, she said.
“I’m in the bathroom, my daughter” – the three-year-old – “is in the living room.” The two-month-old was upstairs.
“They were looking for weed. They said they wanted to know where the weed was or they were going to kill me and my daughter. They were pretty mad.”
They tied her to a kitchen chair, bound her hands and feet.
But if they were looking for marijuana they were looking in the wrong place, Mary said.
“I’m here since April,” she said, “and I’ve never once seen any weed in this house, and I haven’t smoked in the house.”
Mary’s father Gerald Widmann said he had tried pot decades ago, but never liked it and hadn’t taken it up.
His brother Charles, who is putting up the reward, confirmed that.
“They don’t use. I don’t use,” he said.
Charles, a chauffer in the St. Louis area, said the land the cabin is on has been in the family since 1900. He has lived there from time to time.
“I’m angry. They came in with guns. My niece has two children. They held a gun on my niece and her two daughters. I want these a**holes found,” he said.
“They put a gun to my daughter’s head and threatened to shoot her and my granddaughter,” said Gerald Widmann who came home to find his daughter tied to a kitchen chair.
“After they sat me into the chair they grabbed my hair and I went to stop him, and they smashed my face into the table,” Mary said. “They gagged me with a sock.” It turned out to be one of her socks, she said.
“I didn’t understand why he was gagging me. We are so far back in the woods nobody would have heard anything anyway. I still have a headache.”
One took the three-year-old upstairs and put her in her bed. The younger girl was taken out of her crib and put in her mother’s bed. Neither girl was physically hurt.
After she was tied up Mary said the men began searching, mainly through drawers.
They took dishes out of the sink, threw food on the floor, but mainly looked through drawers in living room cabinets.
“The taller one” – about six feet, she said – “was right-handed. The shorter guy was left-handed and had blue eyes.”
She thinks they were there for about half an hour, but that was just an estimate. “It felt like hours,” Mary said.
Gerald returned home Tuesday evening to find his daughter tied up in the kitchen and the three-year-old screaming upstairs.
“He cut my hands and feet loose and untied my mouth and had me call the cops,” Mary said. She called 911 at 7:38 p.m., she was told, and county deputies and state police showed up.
Another part of the story took place several days before, when Gerald returned Saturday afternoon to find the door to the cabin open and the dogs in the yard.
“The door was wide open and the dogs greeted me in the driveway,” when he had put them in the house before he left. He went inside, looked around, and went upstairs to check, “but nothing seemed to be missing,” he said.
He doesn’t know who was there then and what they were after, but he and his daughter suspect the men are at least familiar to the dogs, who would have put up a fuss before the men made it into the house on Tuesday. “I can only speculate,” he said.
About Charles Widmann’s offer of a $1,000 reward for information, Det. Sgt. Caringi said “if he’s willing to, great, if it can help.”
Caringi will take any serious information about the case at 315-379-2222, and Charles Widmann said he will talk to people with potentially useful information at 336-520-4623.