Burglary devastates local family

14 years ago

Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Joseph Cyr
NE-CLR-Wortmans-dc-pt-48HOME BURGLARIZED — The Wortman family of Houlton had the misfortune of finding their home burglarized Thanksgiving day while they were returning from a Bangor hospital. The Wortmans lost more than $2,000 in items. The family includes, middle, Samantha Wortman; and from left, Ricky, Peggy, Ricky-Lynn, Elizabeth and granddaughter Madison.

By Joseph Cyr
Staff Writer

    HOULTON — While most families were enjoying Thanksgiving with family or friends, one Houlton family was dealing with some difficult medical news.
    Peggy and Ricky Wortman learned their 20-year-old daughter Samantha, who has had a history of medical ailments dating back to her birth, was likely not strong enough to have a surgical procedure to remove a large growth on her only kidney.
    The Wortmans had to make the most difficult decision of their lives. They either had to run the risk of their daughter not surviving the surgery, or return home and let the ailment run its course, knowing full well that meant their daughter would not be around for the next holiday season.
    Complicating the matter, the Wortmans returned to Houlton to find their home had been burglarized sometime between Wednesday, Nov. 24 and Thursday, Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Day) and more than $2,000 worth of electronic equipment, including Christmas presents, were stolen from their home.
    According to investigating officer Kristin Calaman of the Houlton Police Department, at 5:55 p.m. the Wortmans reported their Kelleran Street home had been burglarized. The person or persons gained access to the house by prying open a window located along the side of the building.
    Among the items stolen were two complete Nintendo Wii video game systems, a new 20-inch flat screen television that was a Christmas present for Samantha, two new Ipod touches, two Nintendo Gameboy systems and about 42 video games.
    “Samantha took really sick last Friday (Nov. 19) so we took her to the hospital,” Peggy said. “They transferred her to Eastern Maine Medical Center and we all went down to Bangor Saturday (Nov. 20). My husband came back Sunday to work and came back down to Bangor later. He locked the house all up Wednesday (Nov. 24). Samantha was discharged Thanksgiving Day and we got home around 5:30 p.m. to find the window open and our house had been broken into.
    “Our dresser drawers were all open and had been gone through and a couple of doors were open,” Peggy continued. “We were just heart-broken. We don’t know how long Samantha will have with us and to think people would do something like this, at this time of year … it’s devastating.”
    Peggy said the LCD television, which had been purchased just a few days prior to her most recent hospital stay, was something Samantha had been eagerly looking forward to using. The video game systems have been another source of enjoyment in what has been a difficult time in her young life.
    “I was pretty upset,” Samantha said.
    “The video games really take her mind off her condition,” Ricky said. “It makes you so mad to think that you bust your hump to provide for your children and then somebody does something like this.”
    Cindy Boisvert, children’s case manager for Gateways PA in Houlton, has been working with the Wortman family for nearly 12 years, helping them deal with Samantha’s health situation.
    “This is probably going to be Sam’s last Christmas and it would be really nice if we, as a community, could do something special for her,” Boisvert said. “Doctors told us years ago that she would probably never make it to be a teenager. And yet here she is. She is a special young lady.”
    Samantha Wortman has been battling spina bifida since birth, but that is not her only ailment. She also suffers from kidney failure (one kidney has already been removed, while the other has the growth), respiratory problems, skin conditions and has a stent in her brain to drain excess fluid.
    To the eye, Samantha does not appear to be in such dire health straits. She has an infectious smile and a good sense of humor. Despite her protests, her Mom says she really enjoys having her picture taken. This past spring, she graduated from Houlton High School.
    “From August until now, that growth has spread to cover half of her kidney,” Peggy said. “We could either risk the operation or let her go. Our doctor didn’t think she would survive the operation, so we chose to let it go. She could have a couple of weeks or months. Nobody knows.”
    Samantha also has a rare skin condition that causes her skin to form deep lesions that sometimes require surgery to remove.
    “The frustrating thing is that whoever did this had to know the family wasn’t home,” Boisvert said. “Somebody is always here with Samantha.”
`     Houlton Police Lieutenant Daniel Pelletier said the HPD has a “person of interest” they are monitoring, but could not comment further on the case since it was an ongoing investigation. Patrolman Calaman added he believed the items that were stolen were being sold on the street, not at pawn shops.
    “If anyone has any information of people selling these items on the street, please contact the station,” Calaman said. “If I can get just one person to come forward to say they bought an item, that would go a long way in our investigation.”
    Anyone with information on this crime should contact the HPD at 532-2287 or the anonymous tip line at 694-3545. Tips may also be e-mailed to tipline@houltonpolice.com.
    Anyone who would like to provide financial assistance or Christmas gifts to the Wortmans may contact Boisvert at 532-3222.