Duluth burglar flees with no loot and no clothes

DULUTH (AP) - Wayne and Kathie Boniface returned from dinner at an Observation Hill neighbor's home shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday to find a burglar in their house.

DULUTH (AP) - Wayne and Kathie Boniface returned from dinner at an Observation Hill neighbor's home shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday to find a burglar in their house.

Kathie Boniface asked the burglar who he was. "I'm with the FBI and you are blowing my cover,'' the burglar said.

When Wayne Boniface got done with the intruder, he had no cover.

After a more than five-minute scuffle with Wayne Boniface, the burglar lost all his clothes and ran out of the West Ninth Street home nude.

Wayne Boniface, 69, said the burglar made the mistake of grabbing Kathie when they entered their house. Wayne's adrenaline immediately kicked in.


"As soon as he grabbed my wife, I had him in the kitchen wrestling him to the ground in a head-lock and arm-lock," Boniface said. "I had one finger in his mouth between his cheek and teeth really pulling on his cheek. He said, 'I give! I give!' He started running toward the front door. I wouldn't let him get away. We had quite a scuffle for a good five minutes or more in the house. His shirt came off.

"He tried to get away and I bent him over the rail on our deck. I proceeded to grab him by the belt and he kept fighting as I pulled his T-shirt over his head. I had my hands down his pants and grabbed his testicles and penis. He squirmed even harder," Boniface said and

couldn't resist a laugh.

"His head was down over the railing, and in today's world, pants are worn fairly loose. I pulled his pants, and his pants and underpants and shoes came completely off. He was completely nude."

Wayne Boniface said police asked him if he could identify the suspect. "I said, 'Oh, yeah. I believe he's the only guy running nude in Duluth.''

Several neighbors pursued the suspect through the neighborhood, and he was apprehended within 20 minutes near Red Rock Trail and Village View Drive.

Boniface said police took him to where the suspect was sitting in a squad car to be identified. "He was sitting completely in the nude with his hands behind his back," Boniface said. "I said, 'Yep, it's no big thing, but I'd recognize him anywhere.' "

The 20-year-old Duluth suspect had to be treated for injuries at a local hospital, but was released and appeared in St. Louis County District Court Friday afternoon.


Keith Cochise Bellanger is charged with two counts of first-degree burglary. He also has a probation violation on a second-degree burglary conviction and four other warrants for receiving stolen property, interfering with a peace officer and underage consumption. Sixth Judicial District Judge Sally Tarnowski set bail at $100,000 at the request of assistant St. Louis County Attorney James Nephew. Bellanger did not contest the bail amount. The defendant is being held in the St. Louis County Jail.

Boniface sustained a couple of bruises and scratches on his arms and hands but was not seriously injured. "He got in one good punch, but I got in a few more than he did," Boniface said.

Boniface said he did some boxing as a youth but doesn't consider himself a tough guy.

"Wayne did such an outstanding job," said Kathie Boniface, 64. "All those wrestling holds that you hear about -- he tried them and they worked. I think they call it the 'fish hook' where he had his hand in the guy's mouth. And of course he grabbed his privates, too."

The Bonifaces moved to Duluth from Frederic, Wis., in 2004 after retiring. Wayne had been a newspaper advertising manager and Kathie a personal banker. Their son had graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and they said they liked the city.

Duluth police officer Barry Midthun said the couple has made an important contribution to their community by working with police to start a neighborhood block watch and serve as its captains. The Bonifaces said Midthun has been helpful and is always responsive to the neighborhood's needs.

The couple admitted they made a mistake by leaving their house unlocked, but they were dining only 80 feet away. The Bonifaces and Midthun also said this wasn't a textbook way to handle the situation.

"We always teach never to confront an intruder," Midthun said. "But I think in the heat of the moment something kicked in, and they were not going to let this guy leave. That was the decision that they made, and that tells you a lot about who they are. They're strong, resilient, great people -- a couple that you or I would want as our neighbors."


"We were sort of Laurel and Hardy, but it all worked out so well," Kathie said. "The way it turned out was just about perfect, I would say."

MARK STODGHILL covers public safety and courts. He can be reached weekdays at (218)

723-5333 or by e-mail at .

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