A woman came walking down our street, got naked and exposed herself to a neighbor a few doors up from us, and then walked up to our door unaware to us and shoved a wad of burning tissue paper through our mail slot, kicked our door and left. Some of the paper stuck in the mail slot, while another burning chunk fell to the floor.
We quickly grabbed the burning paper and threw it outside and then watched the woman continue down the street knocking over trash cans and just acting, well, crazy.
We called the police and they actually drove up and talked to her and then let her go. When they got up to us a few blocks further up the street, we told the police that — in addition to the indecent exposure they had been alerted to — she also shoved burning paper through our door. The police car turned around and went back to find her. We’re not sure what happened next.
I snapped a photo of one of the pieces of the burnt paper in a “re-creation” of where we first found the burning paper.
That was nuts – and it makes us feel a little vulnerable that anyone with a mental illness can walk up and throw burning paper into our mail slot. I know that our house was a random target and this might never happen again, but we’re now thinking of sealing our mail slot shut and putting a mail box outside.
Our fear is – what if we weren’t home and the dogs were here and the house caught on fire? What if it was the middle of the night and we were sleeping?
We were also less than impressed with the actions of the police. They seemed to kind of not care too much. I fear they will just let this woman go and she could do this again – with far worse consequences.
Our living room still smells like burnt paper as we sit here a little stunned.
Update: So, we never had a police officer come back to our place to tell us anything – Did they catch the woman? Was she on drugs? Is she a sort of known mentally ill person that they have a history with? How random was this attack?
We called our local station and they could not tell us either and said we’d have to call a 911 dispatcher. We kind of didn’t want to tie up any more 911 lines with this issue, so we dropped it. Overall we were very unimpressed with the police response to a situation which – had this woman been more competent in attempted arson – could have been much worse.”
Ed. Note: We previously spoke about DC’s Mental Health’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program here. Some good numbers to keep around:
Dept. of Mental Health’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program operates 3 mental health programs:
Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES): 202-673-9319 (24hrs, 7 days per week)
Mobile Crisis Services (MCS): 202-673-9300 (9am -1am, 7 days per week)
Homeless Outreach Program (HOP): 202-673-9124 (9am -8pm , M-F)”