He and his wife lived in what he called a nice, relatively new neighborhood in Troy.
It was a Sunday night at around 1 a.m. when Mark and his wife Laura were woken by a loud bang.
Immediately the security alarm sounded, and she jolted to her feet to lock the bedroom door. Startled, Mark stumbled out of bed seconds later and went to the door.
As a part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Mark shared his story as a survivor of a violent crime and an advocate for victims’ rights.
“I go to open the door, and I am confronted by a person with a ski mask on and a sawed-off shot gun,” he said as he described the man that would terrorize he and his wife, threatening their lives.
The alarm was disarmed and the couple began to give the intruder money, jewelry and anything they had of value.
“We would try to oblige,” Mark said. “Just keep on doing what he is saying, but it’s not working. He’s not leaving. You see on TV sometimes that people break into houses and get what they want and leave.”
But Mark and Laura’s situation was not like what he said.
The intruder did not rush off. He only became more demanding and violent.
After about a 40-minute struggle involving two kitchen knives and the perpetrator’s shot gun, Mark and Laura were able to subdue the intruder and send out a 911 call.
Mark said he remembered the police arriving at the scene with full personnel just minutes after Laura made the call.
From there, the police took control of the perpetrator while the couple was escorted outside where emergency medical technicians took inventory of their injuries. They were later taken to the hospital. The intruder was taken into custody.
During their recovery, Mark and Laura worked with investigators, received therapy for their physical wounds and counseling for their emotional ones.
Their house was patrolled by police cars mornings and nights. Their church family reached out providing meals and other basic needs.
In time, they stood before a judge and recounted the events of that night.
“We got our day in court,” Mark said. “Through the Victims of Crime Act we were allowed to be in court, tell what happened and make sure that everything was brought to justice.”
It has been 30 years since the Victims of Crime Act was passed on behalf of people like Mark and Laura. Before the passage of this law, the crisis response team, the medical care they received, the time off from work, the counseling that was provided—none of it would have been guaranteed.
Who could really say if any of those resources would have been available or ready without the milestones that the American justice system has seen over the past 30 years?
Mark explained what he thought of the crisis response team that rescued him the night of his attack.
“They were huge,” he said. “They really kind of took their time. They weren’t forcing anything out of us at that time. We were kind of rattled at that point. We didn’t really know what had happened, and we were still trying to recover and catch our breath really.”
He said victims’ rights matter because people need to be heard and find justice after these events.
Mark encourages people who have been victimized to “let the law do its job,” specifically about the judicial system.
“Just listen to what they have to say and follow the steps that they are telling you,” Mark said. “Have faith in them. They are hired and elected for a reason.”
Since these events took place in their lives, Mark and Laura speak to classes on Troy’s campus about the lessons they learned through the process. Mark encourages students to “always have a plan,” regardless of the situation.
“When you are in college you aren’t really thinking about that,” Mark said. “You are just thinking about having fun, but it can easily happen. We’ve seen it happen here several times in the last year.”
Coordinator of the Troy Student Counseling Center, Fran Scheel said the center took this into account when they chose to sponsor the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week campaign.
“Because there were students that died due to violence related crime that was something that motivated us to participate in the national crime victims’ rights week,” Scheel said.
She said that the campaign has been ongoing for the past several years. However, when the opportunity came up to write for the grant funding to host the campaign, it was closely following the death of four Troy students. She said that it has been confirmed that at least two of those deaths were caused by violence-related crimes.
“I felt that the timing was right to honor them and send a message to the campus that this is something that we care about,” Scheel said.
This week the Student Counseling Center has been spreading awareness about National Victims’ Rights Week on the quad. Those interested in more information about NCVRW can visit ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/. The counseling center can be reached at 334-670-3700.
The victims involved in the Troy break-in, Mark and Laura, referenced in this story have asked to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns so their names have been changed for publication.