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Family traumatized after bail bondsman break-in, no police protection

Maynard DeGarmo of Raspberry Bail Bonds and three others forcibly entered the Wilkerson home on Eastern Avenue at around 7:30 the night of December 8, 2017 traumatizing the children within.
Lisa Wilkerson shows the damage to door entering her living area.

Lisa Wilkerson shows the damage to door entering her living area. /Amy Carpenter

The broken front door.

The broken front door. /Amy Carpenter

The broken door jamb.

The broken door jamb. /Amy Carpenter

There are two front doors at the Wilkerson house on Eastern Avenue. The first leads to the front porch, but a quick look shows the wood is splintered: the broken lock sits at an angle and often catches as Barbara Wilkerson tries to open or close it. The next door, the one that enters the home itself, doesn’t fully close anymore. The door jamb and trim that held it secure is in a few pieces, pieces that Wilkerson has carefully propped near the broken frame.

The Wilkersons say that this is only part of the damage done when Maynard DeGarmo of Raspberry Bail Bonds and three others entered the Wilkerson home at around 7:30 the night of December 8. The emotional damage to the children who were present is also of great concern.

Wilkerson’s daughter, Jerrlisa, says she was upstairs in her room taking out her braids when she heard loud banging on the door downstairs. Lisa, as she prefers to be called, is 18 years old and was home with her siblings, ages 15, 9, and 1. The noise frightened her and she called her mother, Barbara, who was not home at the time. Wilkerson called the police, and the dispatcher then called Lisa to report that officers were responding to the call of what appeared to be a man breaking into the home.

That’s when Lisa said people had actually entered the home. She and her young siblings came from their rooms and started down the steps to find DeGarmo and his associates “in the house with their guns out.” Lisa says DeGarmo made his way up the stairs, his bail bondsman badge hung around his neck and gun still drawn. Lisa says she refused to let him go further. The video that Lisa took from the stairs once DeGarmo returned to the first floor is here.

He then demanded to know where another family member was - a family member that does not live and has never lived at the Wilkerson’s current address on Eastern Avenue. At one point, Lisa says, he mistakenly believed Lisa’s 15-year-old sister to be the person he was looking for and reached for his handcuffs.

As Lisa’s younger siblings began to scream and cry in fright, the police arrived. The Wilkerson family has a copy of the report, in which DeGarmo said that Lisa opened the door. The report states, “Maynard said that he thought Courtney was on the other side of the door, so he used his shoulder to prevent Jerrlisa from shutting it on him.”

The police report also states that DeGarmo displayed the warrant information for the family member. Lisa says that not only was she not shown papers and did not open the door, the warrant that DeGarmo showed police was simply on his phone.

After taking the report, the police asked DeGarmo to wait for the person across the street, where he remained for much of the night. Both Barbara and Lisa Wilkerson say that DeGarmo sometimes flipped off the family as they watched him out the window. Since the incident, both Wilkerson and Lisa have received text messages on their phone from the bail bondsman, stating that he won’t rest and he will be there three times a day until he finds the family member. Yet, they say, the person has never lived in their home, and as far as they know their address has never been listed in any of the legal paperwork. They feel that the behavior is harassment.

In the wake of recent criticism regarding the GRPD and their treatment of children, Barbara Wilkerson is also upset that the police didn’t help protect her children. Nor did they write up a complete report that included her daughter Lisa's assertions that 1) she had not opened the door for DeGarmo and 2) that the person he was searching for is known not to live at her address.

Wilkerson believes DeGarmo may have wrongly entered the house, and some legal advice seems to indicate he should not have broken down the door of the family. Local attorney Alfred J. Pandl writes in response to a general question online, "The bail bondsman are given a lot of latitude in capturing bail jumpers but that does not include breaking into your home," particularly when the home is not listed as the address of the person. "When they cross that line they are 'breaking and entering without permission' and possibly 'home invaders'. They are at the very least trespassers."

At this point Wilkerson says the landlord will charge her for the damage to the door. The texts show that DeGarmo has offered to “come over with a hammer” once he catches the person he’s looking for, presumably to fix the door.

Four days after the break-in, the children of the house remain frightened. Lisa says her younger siblings won’t come down the stairs by themselves anymore, afraid that someone will be waiting with guns. The one-year-old child has taken to copying the bail bondsman's gesture to the family as he waited across the street, the raised middle finger. “They don’t know what it means,” says Wilkerson, hugging the child. “They just do it.”

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