James Persyn III, 14, holds the knife he had on Wednesday night while posing for a picture with his sister Acelin Persyn, 11, a their Shepherd, Mich. home, Jan. 18, 2013. (Photo: Detroit Free Press/AP)
The Detroit Free Press has one of the most terrifying, unbelievable "home alone" stories to strike rural America.
It is the story of a 14-year-old boy who was keeping an eye on his siblings while his dad ran a quick errand Wednesday night, who ended up guarding a reported rape victim with his hunting knife as an ex-convict battered at the door and threatened to kill them all. The alleged rapist eventually tried to set the house on fire, with the children inside.
James Persyn was watching television in his Shepherd, Michigan home-- his 11-year-old sister playing with their 2-year-old brother-- when he heard a frantic battering at the door.
"Her voice was, like, she was going to die if I didn't open that door," James recalled, so he looked at his sister and they quickly made the decision to let the woman in.
The Detroit Free Press relates:
A senior at Central Michigan University several miles north, the woman was walking to her car in a school parking lot when Eric Ramsey, a 30-year-old ex-convict, approached her with a gun, got into her vehicle, took her to his mother's house and raped her.
The woman was an alarming sight. She had clear packing tape wrapped around her body. There were bruises on her face. She was cradling one of her arms, which she said was broken after she leaped from the vehicle as Ramsey was driving down South Mission.
She saw the little house with its porch light in the darkness, ran to it and begged to be let inside.
"She's like, 'We gotta hide! There's someone out there who just kidnapped me and he's trying to kill me," James said.
The 11-year-old girl peeked out the window and sure enough, saw a vehicle slowly creeping up their long driveway.
This April 11, 2012, photo released by the Michigan Department of Corrections shows Eric L. Ramsey, 30, of Mount Pleasant, who was paroled in July 2012 after being convicted of assaulting a police officer and destruction of property. (Photo: AP)
The Detroit Free Press continues:
James locked the front door and ran to the side door to lock it, too. He herded everyone into the bathroom to hide. The injured woman got in the bathtub and cowered. [His siblings] Acelin and Angus joined her.
James went to his bedroom and grabbed the one weapon he has -- a hunting knife. He pulled his Labrador retriever by the collar into the bathroom and closed the door, which has no lock. James turned the lights off, so if Ramsey got inside, he might pass by the bathroom and look for them in another room first.
"Let me in or I'll kill you," Ramsey kept shouting.
There they were -- a rape victim, a dog too friendly to offer much protection and three frightened children, hiding in the dark, convinced they were about to die at the hands of the man trying to get inside. And the only thing that stood between them and him was a 5-foot-8, 142-pound 14-year-old boy holding a small knife.
The Persyn family residence in Lincoln Township was partially burned in the late hours of Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 when ex-convict Eric Ramsey allegedly attempted to set it on fire. (Photo: Detroit Free Press/AP)
The university student quickly called 911 and then the boy called his father, who rushed over forgetting both his jacket and his house keys.
In the meantime, the children were waiting, hearts pounding, as the banging on the door subsided. Had the man gotten inside? Had he left?
In reality, Ramsey was pouring gasoline along the base of the house. He lit a match and drove away.
It was at that moment that the terrified father pulled up, throwing himself on the flames, attempting to extinguish what he could before it got out of control. Knowing it was a losing battle, James Persyn Jr. tried to get in the house, realizing too late that the doors were locked and he didn't have his keys.
As fate would have it, that's when the police came, mistaking the father for the criminal.
"I'm the dad! I'm the dad!" he yelled as a police officer ran at him, gun drawn.
Tiffany Ramon, the 28-year-old fiancee of 36-year-old James Persyn Jr., pose for a photo outside of their home by the burnt siding, Jan. 18, 2013, in Shepherd, Mich. (Photo: Detroit Free Press/AP)
Seeing the light of police cars, the kids opened the door to their frantic father and the law. The woman was reunited with her family, but no one knew where Ramsey was. Authorities quickly put out the fire before it could cause irreparable damage.
Police launched an hours-long manhunt for the ex-convict that night, during which time Ramsey reportedly rammed into a police vehicle three times "rendering it inoperable."
Before he was shot and killed by police, Ramsey posted a status update on Facebook: “Well folkes im about to get shot. Peace.”
Ramsey was released from his prison term after five years in July 2012, according to Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan. He was convicted on a litany of charges, including intent to cause great bodily harm less than murder charge and assault with a dangerous weapon, but the parole board let him out at the minimum sentence time.
“I’ve been in this community for 35 years,” Central Michigan University Police Chief Bill Yeagley concluded. “I don’t remember anything like this.”
Meanwhile, though 14-year-old James Persyn's classmates are calling him a "hero," his father wants to keep young James grounded.
"We never put the word 'hero' out there," James Jr. said. "We just kept saying, 'We're proud of you.'"
Fox 17 has more on the unbelievable story: