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Pinch on edge after home invasions; man tells of fighting off intruders

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An overflow crowd attended a neighborhood watch meeting Saturday in Pinch, following two home invasions in the area that have left residents on edge.

Frank Mace, 59, a lifelong Pinch resident, hopes the community meetings will eventually help him feel safe again.

On Thursday, he fought off two men who tried to break into his home.

Later that day, police found a severely injured 74-year-old woman lying on the floor of her home not far from where Mace lives near Miller Drive. Her home had been ransacked, according to a Kanawha County sheriff's deputy, who said on Friday that the woman was still in serious condition.

No arrests have been made and police are investigating if the two incidents are related.

"A little after midnight, my doorbell rang," Mace, a retired principal at Cedar Grove Elementary School, recalled.

At first glance, Mace thought the two men were his grandsons and started to open the door. However, he quickly noticed something was wrong, as scarves covered half of the men's faces.

"I knew their intent was to do something bad," Mace said. "They kept kicking the door and it came back and hit me in my head -- that's how I got the laceration and black eye."

Mace situated himself on the floor throwing all of his weight against the door and was able to keep it from opening, even after the men tried to pry it with a crow bar.

"During the whole ordeal, I was bleeding profusely," he said. "I pushed with all my might and started thinking about my grandchildren.

"I thought, 'I'm not going to die a tragic death, I'm going to fight with all my might and keep them out of this house.'"

Eventually, the men stopped pushing. Mace thought they were going to regroup before trying again, but was able to secure the deadbolt and grab his phone in the meantime.

Then he heard the glass in his front window shatter.

"I kept yelling the whole time and I'm sure they saw me on my phone through the window. I kept saying 'the police are on their way' over and over," Mace recalled.

Finally, the men left. Mace told 911 dispatchers he didn't hear any car engine and assumed the men had fled on foot.

He was taken to CAMC General where he received stitches and was released several hours later.

He returned home to stay the night on Friday, and admits it might take a while to feel comfortable again. He plans to have a security system installed in his home.

"Every time I see a spot of blood [from the incident], I get emotional, but I'm not going to let a bunch of thugs run me off," he said.

Sheriff's Cpl. Brian Humphreys attended the community meeting at the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. Humphreys said Sunday that deputies have several persons of interest and have been working the investigation non-stop.

"We had to get more chairs out for it there was such a good turnout," Mace said. "[Humphreys] told us we need to look out for each other. If we see something suspicious, regardless of how trivial, we should report it.

"I think we're all going to be watching out for each other a lot more after this."

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call detectives at 304-357-0169.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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