Police: Bath salts behind duo’s imaginary intruders

TYRONE – Police suspect bath salts were behind a Tyrone couple’s claims of mustachioed men with “silly faces” and other people hiding outside their Washington Avenue home earlier this month.

On Feb. 7 just before 3 a.m., Melissa A. Zimmerman, 32, of 436 Washington Ave. called 911 with a report of “numerous people” in the backyard trying to steal unnamed items. When police arrived, they found her live-in boyfriend, Branden S. Williams, 28, near Fifth Street and Garden Alley claiming there were men, women and even children in his yard, court records indicate.

Police said Williams pointed to a nearby porch and claimed a man was hiding there, but police said no one was there. Williams said people hadn’t stolen anything, but they were trying to take things from the couple’s yard, a claim he said could be verified by his home surveillance footage.

Police said as Williams showed officers the supposed surveillance video, he pointed to numerous people he said were on the screen. Police said Williams claimed these people, who police could not see, were wearing black and white suits and included children. While watching the video, one of the officers noticed their police car on the screen and police realized what Williams was showing the officers was not taped but in real time.

Still the couple claimed to see people that police said were not real, and both appeared to be under the influence but not drunk. Both denied taking drugs, police said, and continued to insist there were people outside hiding in various spots around the yard.

At 4:12 a.m., police were called again by the couple for another report of people in their yard. Police noted Williams was taking pictures of imaginary people when officers arrived and said the couple said they had surveillance video of “guys with mustaches and silly faces,” according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Police told the couple no one was in their yard or in their neighbor’s garage or shed and they need to stop calling 911 because of imaginary people.

About an hour later, police were dispatched again to the home after Zimmerman called 911 to say that people were breaking into the basement, police said. Arriving officers found Williams in the yard, pointing at a tree, making claims that there was someone hiding underneath it and climbing it.

As before, officers saw nobody in the yard, but Zimmerman was standing on the back steps holding the couple’s 2-year-old child. Standing next to Zimmerman, and just beneath the toddler, was their 6-year-old daughter, who was holding two kitchen knives. Police said the girl told them she had the knives to give to her father because there were people outside.

Police said the couple’s allegedly behavior was indicative of the use of MDPV, commonly called Blizzard or bath salts.

Police noted the couple also have an 8-year-old and the children’s grandparents were summoned to collect the children at that time. Blair County Children, Youth & Families were later contacted because of the couple’s paranoid state of mind, police said.

Police said the couple became upset with police because they couldn’t see the people in the yard. Zimmerman repeatedly showed officers a photograph she took of the window, claiming the flash reflected in the glass was someone with a “scary mask.”

Police returned to the home at 2:30 p.m. that day at the request of Blair County Adult Parole and Probation officers because Williams was on probation and suspected drugs and paraphernalia had been found, according to court records. Police said two spoons with an unknown white residue, a razor blade, a hypodermic needle holding an unknown fluid as well as 107 other syringes were found. The search also turned up four Trazadone, an anti-depressant not prescribed to either, and a bag of marijuana, according to police.

Zimmerman and Williams remain free pending a hearing March 5 and are charged with misdemeanor false alarms, endangering the welfare of a child, false reports to police, possession of a misbranded substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a small amount of marijuana and a summary count of disorderly conduct.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.