Updated: 02/21/2014 10:22 AM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson
Aaron Ray Martin (left) Ryan Woehler (right)
Photo: Photo: Sherburne County Sheriff's Office
The victims of a brazen home invasion in Elk River last Thursday spoke with KSTP.com's Cory Kampschroer in an exclusive interview.
We're not releasing the identity of the family to protect their safety, but they are sharing their story on exactly what happened inside the home on the 18500 block of Quincy Court that morning.
It was about 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, and the morning started out the way it normally does for the 33-year-old man and his 27-year-old wife. The couple’s four school-aged children had just walked out the front door to catch their school bus.
Then everything changed.
Moments later two masked men used the opportunity to walk in the same door as the children left. The male victim was in his basement home office when he suddenly heard a man’s voice behind him say, “Police! Give me your money!”
As the victim turned around, he saw two masked men holding metal pipes; he says the two suspects then began to beat him repeatedly in the head.
"They were real persistent about asking for money, and I didn't know what the hell they were talking about," he said, but added he recently sold a classic car and wonders if that's what they were talking about. “I thought they were going to kill me in that office …. They were going for blood."
The victim said the suspects hit him with the pipes over and over again, about 20 times, he recalled.
During the struggle, he said he managed to crawl toward the stairs and began yelling for his wife to call 9-1-1. She was upstairs in the couple’s bathroom, and their 2-year-old son was sleeping on a couch in the family room.
"I wished I hadn't done that because they didn't know she was there," the man said about shouting for his wife. One of the suspects immediately headed upstairs.
The man’s wife told police she heard her husband screaming from downstairs to call police but her phone was downstairs.
She said a man wearing a black ski mask came into her bathroom holding a pipe in one hand and plastic zip-ties in the other. He repeatedly asked “where the money was,” she told police. The suspect tried to zip tie her hands, but she says the suspect didn't secure them.
The woman told police the suspect then threw a black camera bag with unknown contents down the stairs and ran outside.
Meanwhile, her husband said the struggle with the other suspect took them toward the front door of the home and eventually outside. As the victim tried to get to his neighbor's house, he heard one of the suspects screaming to the other suspect, "Come on, get out of here! We gotta go!”
The woman initially believed her husband had been taken by the two suspects but later learned that he was able to get help at the neighbor’s home.
Police say they found a metal pipe lying on the ground outside the front door of the home; they also noticed blood-splatter on the walls and floor in the main entry area and downstairs.
The victim first identified one of the suspects by the nickname "Creeper." Police say 40-year-old Aaron Ray Martin is known on the street by that name.
The victim said he didn’t know Martin and has never met him, but some of his acquaintances knew him. The victim admits he doesn't have a perfect past -- his track record includes a felony theft conviction in 2005 as well as two impaired driving incidents. Still, he insists the attack was random.
Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney would not comment to KSTP.com if the suspect and victim knew each other.
“They’re looking for a connection that’s not there,” the victim said about the investigation. “I don’t live that life.” He added that police obtained a search warrant and confiscated his phones and computers, some of which have now been returned.
The victim had several gashes on his head and was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital. Authorities say he suffered a skull fracture and a concussion as well as other injuries, and the victim said he ended up with 50 to 60 staples in his head.
The man, who describes himself as a “tough guy,” said he's struggled since the home invasion.
"It's terrible,” he said. “I can't sleep at night; I'm looking at the door. I'm always on guard." He says he continues to get headaches and dizzy spells following the ordeal.
The family has yet to go back to the Elk River home and has been living in a hotel since the incident. They say they plan to move.
"I don't know what I did to deserve this,” the victim said but, “justice will be served."
Elk River police said they don't believe there's any danger to the neighborhood and that they believe the right people are in custody. They declined to comment further, citing an active investigation.
The family has video surveillance at the home. The victim says the video shows the suspects had stalked the family’s home for several days before the home invasion.
Police say the video shows the suspects' arrival in a red Cadillac, and shortly after the video shows the victim running from the home. Both suspects left the home and got into the Cadillac.
The Cadillac was then involved in a high-speed chase reaching speeds of more than 100 mph, police say. At one point, Martin was driving during the high speed chase in the wrong direction on Interstate 94, according to authorities.
Police say the chase ended on County Road 81 when Martin crashed at Brooklyn Lane in Rogers. The two suspects, later identified as Martin and 31-year-old Ryan Woehler, were taken into custody.
Martin has been charged with two counts of first-degree burglary, one count of first-degree attempted aggravated robbery, one count of kidnapping, and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon.
Woehler has been charged with one count of first-degree burglary, one count of first-degree assault, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of kidnapping and one count of second-degree assault.
Martin was previously arrested and charged in Anoka County for stealing from a wedding last fall in Ham Lake.
At this point, authorities have not released a motive for the home invasion.