Homeowner: Intruder changes minds about unlocked doors


By Julian Eure
Managing Editor

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Rick Boyd says he and his neighbors on West Main Street used to think they didn’t need to lock their front doors if they were home during the day.

That’s changed, however, since Boyd discovered an intruder in his house several weeks ago.

Boyd wasn’t injured in the Sept. 5 incident, and the man he found in his house was quickly arrested by Elizabeth City police. Even so, Boyd said he’s noticed a change in his and his neighbors’ behavior since the incident.

“Everybody’s attitude has changed about our front doors,” he said. “We’re now locking them.”

Boyd, who, along with wife Kelly, operates a bed and breakfast in the 300 block of West Main Street, said they were in their backyard with their dogs the morning of Sept. 5 when their next-door neighbor told them something strange.

She said a man had knocked on her front door but after she didn’t answer, apparently had given up and slipped off the side of her front porch. The strange thing was that she hadn’t seen him leave.

“My neighbor said, ‘He disappeared. And the only place he could have gone was inside your house,’” Boyd recalled her saying.

Boyd’s wife immediately called 911, and within minutes several police cars rolled up.

Seeing the officers arrive, Boyd said he felt comfortable venturing inside the house. He said he searched downstairs and didn’t see where anything appeared to have been disturbed.

Upstairs, however, Boyd noticed the lights were off and the curtains and shades were drawn in his master bedroom.

Entering the room he then saw something he never expected to: a stranger standing in front of a window-unit air conditioner, apparently cooling off.

Boyd said he asked the man, “What are you doing in my house?”

According to Boyd, the man meekly replied, “I don’t know.”

Boyd’s wife ran back down the stairs to get the police officers.

As she did so, Boyd said the man seemed to resign himself to being caught. He said the man took a seat in a chair and pulled a box out of his backpack. It turned out to be a cellphone box.

As he waited for police to come up the stairs, Boyd said he didn’t feel afraid.

“I guess I was angry, but I didn’t have time to be angry. I was more surprised than anything,” he said.

Police officers quickly entered the room, arrested the man, handcuffed him and took him downstairs and out of the house, Boyd said.

Police later charged the man, Allen McLain Howard, 29, of the 1400 block of Walker Avenue, Elizabeth City, with misdemeanor larceny, according to an arrest record. Howard was confined at Albemarle District Jail in lieu of a $2,000 secured bond. His trial date is set for Oct. 10.

Officer Lamont Butts of the Elizabeth City Police Department confirmed Monday that Howard was arrested in Boyd’s house. He said police are still investigating why Howard was in the home.

Boyd said he didn’t find anything missing. He did, however, find things Howard apparently left behind. One was a Christmas ornament on his fireplace mantle. The other was a damp hoodie draped over a chair.

Boyd estimates the whole incident with Howard, start to finish, lasted about five minutes. But the impact has been longer lasting.

“We felt violated in our own home,” Boyd said. “It was extremely upsetting.”

Boyd said he’s lived in the Main Street neighborhood for 17 years, and nothing like the incident has happened on Main Street.

The only thing similar to have happened in the city’s historic district, he said, was roughly 16 and a half years ago when another homeowner found someone in his home. Boyd said the homeowner ended up chasing the man down the street until police were able to catch him.