Sheriff’s deputies arrested two men Monday in connection with home invasions last week in Person and Orange counties.
Jason O’Neal Brown, 36, and Jodeci Mustaffa Gaddy, 25, both of Durham, are being held on $2 million bail each in the Person County jail.
In Orange County, the men are accused of breaking into a home as a couple slept in their bedroom. They attacked the wife, whose screams woke her husband, and then fired two shots at the husband, hitting his hand, Sheriff Charles Blackwood said.
Both were charged in that case with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, two counts of assault by pointing a gun, breaking and entering a motor vehicle, according to a news release.
Brown and Gaddy also were charged in Person County with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, first-degree forcible sex offense, attempted first-degree rape, attempted first-degree murder, larceny, and breaking and entering a motor vehicle, the release stated.
The Sheriff’s Office said a community member reported seeing a black Chevrolet Impala with black wheels parked outside the Person County home at the time of the home invasion. Deputies and investigators in both counties were familiar with the vehicle, which was sighted in an area of car break-ins reported earlier in the month.
Sheriff’s deputies worked through the weekend to track down the suspects, who also are suspected of being involved in multiple crimes in Durham County, officials said. They were arrested at a Guess Road car wash, where they worked in Durham, Blackwood said.
The car wash, at the corner of Albany Street, does not appear to have a name.
The first incident was reported early Friday morning in Person County, where a woman told deputies she was awakened at home between midnight and 1 a.m. by two men. One man pointed a gun at her while the men demanded guns and money, she told deputies. The woman was sexually assaulted and hit in the face with the gun during the home invasion, officials said.
A young child in the home was not injured, deputies said. The men entered the house through an open garage door, Person County Sheriff Dewey Jones said in a Facebook Live interview.
Jones said the woman was beaten severely and did not move for a while, because she didn’t know if the men were still in the house. She jumped out of a window with the child in her arms to get to safety, he said.
While that crime was being investigated, the second home invasion was reported outside Chapel Hill around 2 a.m. Friday. The Sheriff’s Office reported that nothing was taken in that break-in on Lucas Farm Lane in a subdivision near Old N.C. 86 and New Hope Church Road.
Blackwood, who joined Jones for the interview, said the men entered that home through an unlocked front door.
Orange County property records show one of the home’s owners is a retired UNC School of Medicine professor..
“These crimes are particularly concerning, because they were completely random — not just the fact that they were random, but the amount of violence that was used in each of these crimes shocks the conscience of our communities,” Blackwood said. “This is something that troubled us, because you are talking about the safety and sanctity of your home being invaded, and these people had no regard for life or property.”
Jones said investigators from both agencies got together after realizing the crimes and suspect descriptions were similar.
“A break in the case came Saturday when a security camera near Northgate Mall in Durham recorded the suspects using a credit card stolen from the victim of the Person County home invasion,” he said.
Deputies were able to identify the men from the security footage, officials said. Both men confessed to those crimes and numerous car break-ins while being interviewed by investigators, they said. The Chevrolet Impala was nearby when Brown and Gaddy were arrested. It has been seized as part of the investigation, officials said..
Investigators also searched the men’s homes, finding enough stolen property to fill a van and a large sport utility vehicle, they said. The property will be compared to break-in reports in an effort to return it to the victims and possibly file additional charges, they said.
Blackwood praised deputies’ work and the partnership between Orange County, surrounding counties, and the State Bureau of Investigation, which assisted in the investigation.
He urged the public to lock their homes and cars, secure their valuables, and call 911 if they see something suspicious. The men told investigators that groups of people are committing similar crimes, he said.
Blackwood also had a warning for people who might commit those crimes.
“We’re a welcoming community — Orange and Person — but don’t take our courtesy and our welcomeness as a sign of weakness. If you come and you do bad things in our community, we’ll hunt you down, and we’ll put you in jail and bring you to justice.”
The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about the crimes can contact Orange County Sheriff’s Investigator Jeff Ray at 919-245-2975. Additional charges are pending, officials said.
Staff writer Virginia Bridges contributed to this report.