Attack in the Night: Billy and Anne Marie

Best Friends and Neighbors

The stress of what has happened to their beloved friends has also taken a toll on Anne Marie and Billy as well. "I feel the physical sensation of fear. I sleep in, like, 20 minute increments. Billy has a baseball bat next to our bed," Anne Marie says.

"Every single snap, crackle, and pop at night wakes me up," Billy says. "We've been very nervous. I'm a much more paranoid individual than I ever was before."

"I see shadows in my peripheral vision and I turn my head really quickly " Is somebody there?" explains Anne Marie. "I cried a lot. Because boiling it down to what it was, my dear friend was attacked in her bedroom in the middle of the night. That's, sorry, that's really hard to ingest."

Dr. Phil sits with Anne Marie and Billy. Anne Marie tells Dr. Phil, "I just think the level of anxiety in our family has gone through the roof. We can't sleep. We can't eat. It's been really difficult. Once the sun goes down, our defenses go up. Every time I open the laundry room, I half expect someone to be in there. Every time I open the shower curtain, I brace myself. It's just really surreal to live like this because before this, I had an illusion of security and it's gone now."

"Do you fear for your children?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Of course. Of course," answers Anne Marie. "Every minute. A lot of the neighbors all have their kids sleeping in their master bedroom because they're afraid to not be in the same room with them."

"If anything keeps me up, it's the thought of someone like that getting into a room where my kids are. Bar none, that is my greatest fear," says Billy.

"Are your children safe here?" Dr. Phil asks Anne Marie.

Her face crumples. She speaks through her tears. "I hope so. I hope so. I, you know, I have to believe that they are because this is our home, but I feel scared for them," she says.

"So you're not sleeping, you're not eating and you're tense all the time. Is it getting better, or is it getting worse?" he asks.

"Some days are OK. I think I have good days and bad days," she says. But just the previous day, Estela walked in their back door and frightened Anne Marie so badly, she fell to her knees and began to cry. "I just don't want to live like that."

"What I want you to understand is that you are depleted right now," Dr. Phil tells her. "I mean, your stress is obviously really, really high. I hear it in your voice. I see it in your eyes. I see it in your face. So what we have to do is, first off, get you back to 100 percent of who you are, right? We've got to get you sleeping, we've got to get you eating, we've got to get you to where you're not carrying all this stress all the time."

Dr. Phil tells the couple that a security expert will make sure their home is safe, and they will receive some psychological help as well. "We'll get you some professional help to deal with this situation," he assures them. 

Dr. Phil meets with Greg and Estela's 9-year-old twin daughters. He answers their questions and reassures them that they will be safe. "Do you know how brave and strong and courageous your mom and dad are?" he asks them. "Do you know that when somebody bad got in your house, they were so brave and so strong to chase him away? And I was so proud that your dad thought to jump out that window and go get help. And that was a very brave thing for him to do, so y'all should be really proud of your mom and dad."

 

The girls smile. "OK," they say.

 

Dr. Phil also walks through the neighborhood with the concerned residents. Since Greg and Estela's traumatic encounter, the residents have gathered together and established a Neighborhood Watch program where two people walk through the area every night.

Dr. Phil stresses the importance of getting to know their neighbors, so when a family is out of town, they know to look for a secure environment when they pass the house.

"Don't underestimate random patrols," Dr. Phil tells them. "Because we've done a lot of research on this. Criminals are lazy and they take the line of least resistance. If they see action, if they see motion, it's just easier to go somewhere else."

For more information on starting a Neighborhood Watch program in your area, visit: www.usaonwatch.org.