Victims struggling with aftermath of burglaries

Many people are thankful for things like home, health, family, or a job during this holiday season. But some Juneau residents are still trying to regain a peace of mind that was lost after a string of burglaries exactly two years ago.

Victims are still trying to manage the stress and anxiety even though the man arrested and convicted for those burglaries will spend as much as the next thirteen years in prison. Joseph Allen, 31, apologized in court during a rare Saturday sentencing hearing held on November 9th.

Allen, who admitted run-ins with the law since he was twelve, said he knew better than to try to ask for forgiveness from his victims.

“I sincerely apologize about the horrible things I put you through,” said Allen in a comment directed at one woman who he had assaulted in her own home.

“I’m truly am sorry…and I truly feel horrible about that,” said Allen to other victims in which he had stolen items of sentimental value.

Allen blamed an addiction to bath salts, methamphetamine, and heroin for his crimes. He pointed out that he was already getting help at Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

I’m extremely ashamed and embarrassed of all these things that I’ve done. To each and every one of you, also to my family and community.”

Juneau Police Detective Krag Campbell testified that they initially did not know who was responsible for the string of at least half-a-dozen burglaries in late 2011.

We believed during that month of November and December (that) we had a much higher rate of residential burglaries than Juneau normally gets. So, we believed that there was someone or a group of people were doing more burglaries.”

Breaks in the case came from footprints in the snow, a coffee cup left behind at one scene that was eventually traced to a stolen gift card, picture of a vehicle at another burglary scene, search warrants served on records of stolen cell phones that were traced to Allen, and discovery of the vehicle with stolen items inside.

Jaquelli Ziegenfuss was assaulted and robbed in her home by a man wearing a mask, and brandishing what appeared to be gun and a can of mace or bear spray. Ziegenfuss and her two young children were home alone on the day after Christmas as her husband had just left for a hunting trip. The children were upstairs and hid after their mother was attacked by an intruder that essentially body-slammed her to the floor.

In my mind, a man comes into my home and puts a gun in my face, and then proceeds to jump on top of me trying to restrain my arms above my head, I wasn’t thinking robbery. In my mind, I believed that I would be sexually assaulted or killed. I didn’t know what was going on.”

She described escaping to a neighbor’s house to get help. But she agonized and worried about her two children that may have been left with an intruder with unknown intentions.

Almost all of the victims described the sense of loss by themselves and children for various items stolen ranging from Ipods and Ipads, children’s game devices, phones, laptops or tablets, identification, spare house and vehicle keys, credit and debit cards, jewelry, Christmas presents, and various other items that had modest or little monetary worth, but enormous sentimental value.

Anna Hoke testified about how her camera equipment used for her work had been taken, and she described the effort and expense in tracking down a duplicate of treasured engagement ring that was no longer manufactured.

There were also the various ways that the burglaries changed and affected all of the victims mentally and emotionally even now, two years later. There are persistent concerns and worries about remaining in a home alone, and the loss of security and trust.

Will Belknap described his new habits of double and triple checking locked doors, and his children displaying behavior following the burglaries that including hiding and protecting what few treasured items they had left.

“So yeah, it was definitely disconcerting,” said Belknap.

Even still to this day, you get angry about the things taken, and you are uncomfortable about leaving the house.”

“Our home will never be the same,” said Hoke.

I feel violated that Mr. Allen was in there without our permission, touched our things, and took things that are so special from us that are irreplaceable.”

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp said there were certainly more victims than noted in the original burglary reports. The number of Allen’s victims seem part of an ever widening circle.

Even just named folks don’t cut it. There are numerous people that are affected and have been affected by Mr. Allen’s actions throughout a long period of time, the last two decades. He has created more victims than the State count.”

The sentence arose out of a plea agreement that included open sentencing. The judge essentially had his own discretion within the established ranges for those particular crimes.

Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez noted an earlier robbery and assault of a liquor store clerk when Allen was 15-years old, and determined that Allen was a worst offender who needed to be isolated.

What I find to be disturbing about all of that, Mr. Allen, is that I believe you will change. I believe things will come about for you in life and you see a different way of looking at life, and you will become hopefully become a productive member of society, and a good father and a good dad. But with you, sir, my experience begins and ends with robberies.”

In the end, Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez sentenced Allen to 22-years in prison with 9-years suspended for all of the charges. That’s 13-years to serve. Allen will also be on probation for 10-years.

One of the victims in the case, Shonda Belknap, expressed relief afterward that the case was finally over, writing on Facebook that she felt that “the sentence was fair and justified.”