Police describe 'rough, bloody' home invasion in Red Bank

Police describe 'rough, bloody' home invasion in Red Bank

March 16th, 2010 by Chris Carroll in News

Four criminal defendants appeared in a packed Red Bank courtroom Monday as new details emerged about what police described as a "rough and bloody" home invasion two weeks ago.

Dressed in blue Hamilton County Jail jumpsuits, the defendants, all from Blount County, sat in a small steel cage before entering the courtroom with shackles around their ankles. One of the women defendants hyperventilated as she faced Judge Johnny Houston.

All four are charged with especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy. Their bond is set at $1.3 million each.

The charges against Steve Hannah, who is accused of impersonating a census worker to get into the home, were sent straight to the Hamilton County grand jury by Judge Houston because Mr. Hannah already has hired an attorney.

The other defendants -- Brandie Brandon, Mona Ray and Misty Wilson -- will receive court-appointed attorneys on April 12 before their cases move forward.

* Defendants -- Brandie Brandon, Steven Hannah, Mona Ray, Misty Wilson

* Bond -- $1.3 million apiece

* Charges -- Especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy

Source: Red Bank Police Department

According to police, a man approached Jewel Berg at her Knollwood Drive home in early March, posing as a census worker. A few days later, on March 6, he came back, police said, and Ms. Berg, thinking he had returned for more census questions, led him into her garage.

Two masked females then joined in, using extension cords to restrict Ms. Berg and her boyfriend, Ahwazi Bijan, as the house was looted, Red Bank Police spokesman Sgt. Dan Knight said.

According to Sgt. Knight, the male robber smashed his boot into Ms. Berg's face, causing deep lacerations.

"Their wrists and everything were cut from where they were bound so tight," Sgt. Knight said. "The extension cords were tied around their necks and socks were in their mouths to keep them quiet."

Sgt. Knight said the robbers took several hundred dollars in cash, a laptop computer, a digital camera and prescription drugs. Police have recovered everything except all the stolen medication.

"They wanted money and they wanted the drugs," he said. "They'll take anything they can get their hands on."

Sgt. Knight said two of defendants are Ms. Berg's cousins, and Ms. Ray actually lived inside the Red Bank residence with Ms. Berg for some time.

"They had been told there was a lot of jewelry, a lot of cash, things like that," he said. "They were going in with greed in mind."

According to Sgt. Knight, a man burglarized another Red Bank home on Goodsen Avenue the day before the home invasion, stealing guns, ammunition and other tools. Mr. Hannah has been charged with that burglary.

Police credited the city's traffic cameras with providing the Blount County license plate number from an old black Camaro.

Sgt. Knight said officers combed through four hours of footage from a traffic camera placed on Ashland Terrace at Dayton Boulevard.

"We get kicked every time somebody gets a ticket," Mayor Joe Glasscock said after Monday's hearing. "By the same token, we should be congratulated when a camera catches a crook."

Mr. Hannah was recently released from prison on assault and drug charges, officials said.

"Even family members and everyone that knew him said they were glad to see that he was off the streets," Sgt. Knight said. "They said hard-working people and people with homes would be safer with him off the streets."