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Columbia County Home Invasion Suspect Arrested

Posted on: 5:27 pm, January 31, 2012, by , updated on: 01:39pm, February 1, 2012

Investigators in Columbia County have captured a suspected intruder described as an Iraq war veteran.

Investigators believe he is the one who forced his way into a home near Berwick the day after Christmas.

The victims told police the man was inside their house for two hours. He threatened them with a gun, a knife and a hammer. He even forced the woman to strip naked. The couple was not injured, but the husband and wife were so shaken up that they didn’t report the crime for three days. Police said the couple’s description and Facebook helped them find the suspect.

Harrison Karns describes himself as a veteran on his Facebook page. He said he served three tours in Iraq, but now he is serving time inside a jail cell for allegedly holding a couple hostage and robbing them at gunpoint.

Police said Cynthia Gitz was at her home near Berwick the day after Christmas when Karns knocked on her front door. He told her he was lost. When she went to get him a phone book he pushed his way inside the home. Gitz said he pointed a gun at her and demanded money, saying he knew she has a safe with money inside.

She told police Karns took her into the basement and tied her up. Her husband, Ralph, got home a few minutes later. Police said Karns pointed a gun at him and forced him to open the safe, pocketing $10,000.

According to court papers, Karns pulled a knife on the older couple and told Cynthia Gitz to strip. After she refused, he threatened her husband with a hammer. The victim took off her clothes and told police Karns then seemed to feel bad for the couple. They said he told them about his time overseas and that his wife left him and his friend was killed.

The couple waited three days before calling police. They still haven’t returned home. Police found Karns through tips, an article on the Internet and his personal Facebook page. He was arrested Monday at his mother’s house near Berwick.

The couple told police that Karns came to their house because someone told him about the “big house in the woods with the safe.”

Harrison Karns is locked up tonight under $1 million bail. He is scheduled to be in court on February 7.

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