"There was a man standing in my bedroom door(way) with a gun. He had a pocket full of zip ties. He pulled one out and tied me to the bedpost."
Private music teacher Donna Briggs described a terrifying home invasion in vivid detail as she recounted the night of March 1. A Chicago Heights senior citizen, Briggs lives alone and said she feels she made a mistake that night.
"I forgot and failed to secure the front door, so part of it’s my fault," she said.
Briggs said the man standing in her doorway when she woke up wasn't alone in her house.
"There was an accomplice I never saw," she explained. "He was also talking on a cell phone to a third party. It was a woman's voice. He was telling her to bring the car around."
The man, donning a ski mask, pointed the gun at Briggs but eventually ransacked her house, stealing jewelry, a computer and an iPod, she said. That's when Briggs took her opening.
"They took the computer and loaded the stuff into a car," Briggs said. "I was able to slip the tie off the bedpost. I ran down into the basement. I ran out the back basement door. I ran across a couple yards and hid on a front porch."
Briggs said she took her cell phone with her as she fled the house and called 911.
Unfortunately, the longtime Heights resident had experienced fear in the face of a gun before. In January 2006, Briggs was attacked outside her home by a group of people who had stolen a car in Urbana and were trying to dump that car for hers, she said.
"One approached me and hit me in the head with a gun," Briggs said. "I fell, and my keys went under the car… They ended up leaving without taking the car."
Briggs said she was also robbed in March of 1998, while she was walking down the street
"So this is my third time in the past 13 years to have been looking down the wrong end of a gun," Briggs said, "It's getting old."
Briggs and her neighbor, Sandra Cramer, said they want the community to be made aware of the break-in.
"Aside from the people we've told, I don't think anyone knows," Cramer said. "I believe other elderly people should be aware of this invasion to my neighbor.
Chicago Heights police have not yet apprehended the offenders, but Briggs said they have remained in touch with her through what has been a difficult time.
"It took a long time for me to summon up the courage to go out after dark again," said Briggs, who is getting an alarm system installed. "I keep asking myself, 'Will they return?'"
Briggs described the man in her room as around 6-foot tall, medium build. She said his gun was unique, as it appeared chrome-plated and could be described as "rickety."
If you have any information on this case, please call the Chicago Heights Police Department detectives hotline at 708-756-6421.