One of the calls was from Taryn Hafeli, who said the woman started asking her questions after she walked out of the post office. Hafeli said her three-year-old was a little fussy after not being able to take a sticker from the post office and as she walked outside, a woman approached her and her son.
“I saw her out of the corner of my eye and she’s like, in this weird voice was like, ‘Is your child okay?’ I’m like ‘Yea he’s fine thanks,’ and she’s like, ‘He doesn’t sound okay, is your child okay, what are you doing to your child, is your child okay?’ ”
She said at that point, she didn’t make eye contact and headed straight for her car. The woman followed.
“I just knew my gut, something was not right, and I opened my driver side door and put both of us in and locked the doors immediately,” Hafeli said.
She said she buckled her son up in the back and noticed the woman walking around her car and looking at her license plate. Hafeli said she looked up and saw the woman wearing a black and green full, Halloween-style face mask, similar to the one in the Purge.
The Purge is a popular horror movie franchise set in the near-future. A crime-free America is not what it seems. An annual “purge” holiday allows murder, and other crimes to be legal for 24 hours. Many of the participants wear masks similar to the one in this story. The films have a cult following.
“I started calling 911,” she said. “I took a picture of her, and she walked around my car and tried to open all of my car doors trying to get in.”
Hafeli said she isn’t sure what her motive was, but also noticed another vehicle trying to block her from leaving.
According to authorities, she wasn’t the only one to call 911.
“There was a couple of calls from other citizens in the High Ridge area, calling us with concerns about this same individual, saying that she was just acting like a little off,” Grant Bissell, the public safety information coordinator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, said.
“They weren’t really saying she was up to any kind of criminal activity, but just seemed suspicious,”
Hafeli said she and her son were able to drive away, but she said her son hasn’t been able to sleep through the night.
“I don’t want him to have to worry about stuff like that, he’s three,” she said through tears.
Deputies said the woman could have been going through a mental health episode, or under the influence. Deputies took her to an area hospital where she was evaluated.
She could only be held for up to 72 hours, which has already passed.
Hafeli said she has a message for other moms, “make sure your surroundings are safe, watch, you know, look at everyone, keep your babies with you, don’t let them out of your sight.”