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Invasion leaves fear behind

Joey Imhoff doesn't spend much time at home anymore. Not since five inmates escaped from the Citrus County jail and a day or two later, someone broke into her mobile home to take clothes, food and a hunting knife.

Imhoff and her husband, John Imhoff Jr., returned from a trip three days after the Feb. 17 jailbreak to find their home in shambles. Clothes littered the living room. Hunks of mud lay in the sink. Someone had even showered in the bathroom.

John Imhoff's work pants were gone, along with some T-shirts, socks, sneakers and a couple of frozen steaks.

Whoever broke in took nothing of value. Just some of life's necessities and Imhoff's peace of mind.

"It really freaked me out," said Imhoff, 21, who lives about 2 miles from the Lecanto jail.

The Sheriff's Office has confirmed that it is looking into whether the burglary is connected to the escape. "It's certainly a possibility," said department spokeswoman Gail Tierney.

That's what bothers Imhoff. The thought of a violent convict rummaging through her belongings haunts the young mother of a 2{-month-old girl.

As a result, Imhoff said, she has spent her days since the burglary at her mother-in-law's house.

Four of the five inmates have been caught. But Frank L. Wiley, 46, remains on the lam. Before the jailbreak, he was serving a life sentence for being a habitual criminal. He has a history of breaking and entering.

"That guy could have cared less," Imhoff said. "He's in jail for a hundred years. He could hurt somebody."

But, Tierney said, a break-in by an escapee seems less likely because of the Imhoffs' dog and because other houses are between the jail and the Imhoffs' home. "It might not be the prime target of somebody on the run," she said.

Still, Imhoff and her mother-in-law are struck by what the mysterious invader took.

"It's just odd that there was nothing of value taken," said Jo Imhoff, 51, Joey's mother-in-law. "They could have taken a lot of things that could have been hocked."

Joey Imhoff said that after investigators came out Monday, they returned Tuesday for a more thorough follow up. The deputies were particularly interested in the deep ditch that runs beside her house to a power line road that runs toward the jail, she said.

"They made sure they knew how far away it is," she said.

Although the break-in has left a lingering sense of fear, Imhoff said at least one good thing has come out of the incident.

"We weren't very sociable with our neighbors before," she said. "Now we are."