Pocatello, Idaho

From the (WA) Olympian of October 1, 2007

Fists, then neighbors help thwart Idaho home-invasion robbery

An eastern Idaho resident got help from his fists, then his neighbors to thwart a terrifying home-invasion robbery attempt last week. Now, Robert Mandziara is installing a security system – just in case.

“The thing that bothers us the most was that we didn’t even know he was there,” Mandziara told the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello. “He told police he was in the house for an hour.”

Mandziara was sleeping early Monday. His wife was beside him, his three kids in their bedrooms down the hall. That’s when Dean C. Miller, Jr., allegedly entered the garage of their Pocatello home, took Mandziara’s shotgun and then slipped inside the home through an unlocked side door.

Miller, who has since been charged with first-degree kidnapping, burglary, possession of methamphetamine and assault with intent to commit robbery in 6th District Court, was pointing the weapon at Mandziara when he awoke and his wife awoke. Miller held both of them prisoner for roughly 25 minutes, Mandziara said.

“He would move from the door to our master bathroom to the door on our walk-in closet,” he said. “I tried to be patient.”

Agitated, Miller began to pay more and more attention to what was happening outside the couple’s bedroom window – and less to what was happening inside the house. When the Mandziara’s baby began crying, Miller grew more agitated and told the couple to “make it stop.” After that, Mandziara’s wife had had enough, he said: Holding the wailing infant, she tapped his leg – a signal that it was time to take action.

“I struck him in the face with my fist,” he remembers. “It startled him, but it didn’t put him down.”

As the two struggled, his wife fled to a neighbor’s home for help. Mandziara said he grabbed his shotgun and eventually wrestled the weapon away from Miller. He then hit Miller in the back of his head with the stock of the gun – only Miller didn’t go down.

“It made me realize there was a problem,” Mandziara said, adding he then sprinted from the house to the neighboring home. Another neighbor arrived with a second shotgun, and together Mandziara and he held Miller captive in the garage until police arrived and were finally able to user a jolt of electricity from a stun gun to subdue him.

Friday, Mandziara was back at his job as a sales manager at a local Pocatello automobile dealership for the first time since the incident. He’s spent the last few days overseeing the installation of a security system in his home, rearranging furniture – and trying to soothe his family’s fears.

“Time makes it go away,” he said. “I just wish we could fast forward.”

Meanwhile, Miller likely faces up to life in prison if convicted, with prosecutors hoping to increase the penalty by 15 years because he is suspected of using a firearm.

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