“Something went down at the apartment this afternoon,” my roommate Hillary’s phone call began. “Two black guys broke in, tied up Brett, raped Carly, and robbed the place.”
“What?” I was in disbelief. “Oh, my God….oh my God…,” my voice trailed. I was at my job as an advertising assistant at a construction company. I had only lived in L.A. for two months, having moved there from San Jose beginning of August. I lived in a very nice apartment in a very cool area with three other women, all of us in our twenties.
Hillary, who had been at work, filled me in on a few more details, then I said, “I’ll be home as soon as possible.” I hung up the phone, numb, and I began shaking. My boss, Jerry, and one of the sales reps, Tammy, were in the office. I motioned for Tammy to close the door. I relayed the news to them and broke down sobbing. Jerry got up, stood behind where I sat, put his hands on my shoulders and began saying a prayer. Tammy put her arms around me and bowed her head.
Not a very religious person myself, I still welcomed Jerry’s words, which consisted of something like, “Please God, protect Kelly and her roommates from any more harm, and please see them through this difficult time….”
I got home to find the police wrapping up their investigation. Carly and boyfriend Brett were surprisingly composed, yet still shaken. Hillary roamed through the apartment, taking note of anything missing. Our other roommate, who was Carly’s sister Lisa, was still at work.
I looked over at a corner of the living room and noticed my brown leather art portfolio was missing. I alerted the police to it. Along with that, the rapists/thieves had taken phones, a jar of loose change, a leather jacket, a ghetto blaster and a handful of other things.
It turned out they had been looking for drugs. There were no drugs, but at one time there had been. A little over a year before I moved in, one of the boyfriends was dealing cocaine out of the apartment. The other roommates eventually put a stop to it, but not before it caught the attention of the guys who would eventually rob us. I guess they figured, “once a drug house, always a drug house.” Unfortunately I knew nothing of this history before the break-in.
Ironically, only a week prior to the break-in, Carly and I had gone for a run through our neighborhood where it bordered Beverly Hills. While running, we got on the subject of safety, how we loved our neighborhood, etc. The conversation then turned to the “what if’s” – as in, what would we do if someone tried to harm and/or rape us?
“I would go down fighting,” was my knee-jerk response.
“I don’t know,” Carly mused, skepticism lacing her tone. “I don’t think anyone really knows unless you’re in that situation. I mean, what if they had a gun?”
“They would probably have to kill me,” was my response. “They could rape me, then kill me anyway, so why not try to fight them off?”
Carly, at 5’11″, looked like a cross between Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting was the hit show back then), and Christie Brinkley. Not only did she look like a model, she had actually done some modeling, but at the time she was working as a manager/hostess at a popular restaurant named “Cathy Gallagher,” owned by ex-model of the same name. Carly could walk into a room and instantly become the woman every guy loved and every woman hated.
So a week after our run, those two men broke in. Carly and Brett were in her room taking a nap. They heard a noise and looked up to see an arm closing the door. The man, realizing he had been spotted, went into panic mode, drew a gun, then called to his partner, who was in another part of the apartment.
The two men, fearing to be identified, immediately threw sheets over the couple and forced them to sit on the floor of the hallway. They then wrapped telephone cord around their sheeted bodies, which kept them somewhat immobile. Then they held guns to Brett and Carly’s heads and demanded, “Where are the drugs?”
“There are no drugs,” Brett insisted. “Please, don’t hurt us. There are no drugs!”
While one guy kept a gun on Brett, the other guy, while still armed, dragged Carly into my bedroom and raped her. With the sheet still over her head, he threw her over the desk and violated her from behind.
Gun pointed at his head, the interrogation continued for Brett, who could hear Carly’s sobs coming from my room.
After he raped her, the guy dragged Carly out into the hallway and handed her off to the other guy, who dragged her into another bedroom, removed the sheet and had her perform fellatio on him. He kept the gun pointed at her head and warned her not to look at his face.
Once Carly’s ordeal was over she was led back into the hallway next to Brett, then secured with the phone cord.
The men then ransacked the apartment and left about 15 minutes later.
Once they were sure the men were gone, Carly and Brett were able to struggle free and call for help.
The men were never caught. Carly went to the police station for an examination and DNA testing, but that was as far as she would go; she later refused to go down and identify any suspects that were in custody.
About a week after the break-in there was a carjacking and murder of a couple of UCLA students. The young couple was carjacked near the campus — about three miles from our home — then driven out to a wooded area where they were each shot in the head, point blank. Those men – who seemed to fit the description of the men who terrorized Carly and Brett – were caught; but again, Carly refused to identify them. Not only was she not sure what her rapists looked like, she simply wanted to put the matter as far behind her as possible.
I did take solace at the time when a friend of mine – who had friends in the legal system – used some logic in assessing that, “If it had been the same guys, Brett and Carly would be dead, like that other couple; a rape is a lot more serious than a car-jacking.”
But then again, no one knows for sure.
All I know is that, although my art portfolio had been important to me at the time, I was still incredibly lucky. I felt even luckier that the construction company I worked at – due to budget cuts – laid me off a week later, and not the week before or the week of the break-in. Had I been home during that ordeal, there is no telling what the outcome would have been. To say that I dodged a bullet could be a huge understatement.
Whether it was Jerry’s prayer that kept us safe in that apartment after that, or just sheer luck and caution, it’s hard to say. But I still loved L.A., never regretted my decision to move there, and I was determined not to let that horrible incident break my spirit.
I never told my mother about the rape. I did tell her that we were robbed, but that no one was home when it happened; considering what a chronic worrier she was, and how she wasn’t crazy over my moving to L.A. to begin with, I think telling her there was a rape in my apartment (let alone my bedroom) would have sent her right over the edge.
Mostly due to conflicts and personality clashes — but with the break-in still weighing heavily on our minds — we all moved out of the apartment two months later. Hillary and I found a place about two miles away in West Hollywood, and we’re not sure where Lisa and Carly wound up. We lost touch with them, and after a couple of years as roommates, Hillary and I went our separate ways.
Hard to believe that something that occurred more than half my life ago can still be so fresh in my memory. Although I don’t keep in touch with any of my ex-roommates from that time, I know that the one thing we all have in common is that it is still pretty fresh in their memories as well.