NEW PORT RICHEY — She figured the porch light burned out. It was about 1 a.m. Wednesday and Vickie Bankowski was just getting home from seeing her sister in Tampa. The doorway was dark and her two shih tzus — Gizmo, 7, and Beethoven, 5 — weren't in the window waiting for her, as they always do. When Bankowski, 56, unlocked the door to her home on Blayton Street, only Beethoven ran outside. He didn't want to come back in. She still didn't think much was wrong. She scooped him up, went inside and closed the door.
The lamp on her end table was smashed on the floor.
"You two have been reckless," she said to Beethoven, thinking he and Gizmo knocked it over playing.
Then she noticed the light that she always leaves on for them in the kitchen was off. She set down her purse and turned on the hallway light.
She saw blood.
"What the hell?" she said.
There was blood on her floor and on her refrigerator and in the sink. There were bloody towels in the trash can.
"Oh my God," she thought. "I've been broken into."
She couldn't find Gizmo. She went into the living room. A stool was knocked over. Gizmo wasn't on his favorite doggie bed.
Bankowski stopped cold.
She saw feet on her couch. Human feet. She crept closer.
There was a naked man sleeping on her sofa. The man was smeared with blood.
She walked back out of the living room and into the kitchen, where she silently grabbed a steak knife and picked up her purse and her keys and put Beethoven under her arm and together the two slipped out the front door, where Bankowski called 911.
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The last thing Justin Barker remembers is drinking Four Loko — a caffeinated alcoholic drink — at his friend Shannon's house on Linkwood Street in New Port Richey, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
About 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the 21-year-old started yelling and ran out Shannon's back door. She figured he would come back, the sheriff's report said, because he wasn't wearing shoes.
This began the nudity.
Barker was next spotted a few blocks away on Hendrix Street, where authorities say he smashed through a sliding glass door to ransack the house of a 70-year-old woman, who was not at home. His arm bleeding after being sliced by glass, Barker went animalistic inside the home — shedding his clothes, ransacking, destroying, defecating in the living room and kitchen, where the door to the oven had been ripped from its hinges and thrown on the floor, a report states.
Neighbors heard noises and looked outside. A 72-year-old woman saw a thin, white, nude man stroll out of the home and walk away on Hendrix Street, calling out the name, "Shannon," the report states. From there, it was only another few blocks to Bankowski's house.
• • •
Deputies handcuffed Barker while he was still on the couch.
"Why am I being arrested?" he asked a deputy, according to the report. "I didn't steal anything."
Barker said he needs to "stop drinking" because he does "stupid things" when he drinks. Barker told deputies he will pay the victims for the damage he caused, the report states.
• • •
There's blood in her bed and on her walls and on her window blinds. Bankowski only goes back to check and see whether Gizmo has showed up. She can't find him. Gizmo — who is brown and white with a bit of gray on the tips of his ears — isn't at the animal shelter. Bankowski's neighbor's haven't seen him.
"It's just devastating," she said.
She's angry and in shock. She feels violated. She wants her dog back.
"Beethoven is totally lost without him," she said.
"And I am too."
• • •
Barker, of 15601 Hicks Road in Hudson, is charged with two counts of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. He is being held at the Pasco County jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.