Dunedin couple relieved at home invasion suspect arrest

11:31 PM, Jun 2, 2012   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Dunedin home invasion (May 14th, 2012)


DUNEDIN, Florida - A retired couple says they're relieved after a suspect was arrested for his alleged involvement in their brutal robbery.

But Robert and Paula Babcock also say they know the man, who used to do odd jobs for them.

"I'm extremely angry," says Paula. "It gives me a feeling of untrust. I've always been a trustworthy person."

Officials with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office took Christopher Austin into custody Friday night, in the area of North Greenwood and Myrtle in Clearwater. Authorities said they are still looking for other suspects.

According to investigators, the home invasion happened May 14, when Paula heard a knock and opened the front door of their home along the 500-block of Chicago Avenue. Two strangers forced their way inside.

Paula says they pushed her down the hallway, into the living room, and pointed a gun at her. She adds that the men wanted to know where the money was and pistol-whipped her multiple times.

"I was hysterical. I started screaming. That's all I could do," she explains.

Armed with a rifle, her husband tried to help. But they say the suspects were able to take it away from Robert. They then beat and tortured him.

"I wouldn't talk, so he took the broken candle bottle and I ended up with 144 staples and 125 stitches in the back of my head," says Robert.

The suspects eventually took off with the Babcocks' safe after ripping it out of a wall. The couple can't believe someone they tried to help was allegedly involved.

The Babcocks are hoping the other suspects are caught soon. If you have any information, call the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office at 727-582-6200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.

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