80-year-old woman burglarized while she slept; suspect was neighbor with criminal history

Joshua Henry (Franklin County Sheriff's Office)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Franklin County Sheriff's Office admonished a man on social media they accused of stealing from an elderly woman earlier this week.

The social media post read: "Committing burglary is bad enough, but when you do it to a senior citizen, that’s just terrible. You're where you belong now, behind bars. Great job by everyone involved."

Birdie Atkins had no idea she had been burglarized until her neighbors told her.

Advertisement - Story continues below

It happened while she slept.

They told authorities they had seen the man who did it.

It was another neighbor.

“I froze for a bit. I just froze, numb,” Birdie Atkins told 10TV.

“But then I thought he ain’t going to get me down. I’m not going to start crying and carrying on – or act like I was afraid or anything. I was going to be brave. That’s in my blood.”

As she tells it, Atkins had hired 33-year old Joshua Henry to cut down a tree in her yard. She had paid him $150.

But overnight earlier this week, court records allege that Henry entered Atkins unlocked door and took another $245 while she slept.

Henry lives in the same Hamilton Township neighborhood in Franklin County.

“If I was younger, like 70, he’d never have got out of my house. If I would’ve heard him, I would’ve clobbered him,” Atkins said.

A news release from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department states that on September 19, Henry entered the home and that a neighbor saw him go inside.

That neighbor later identified Henry in a photo lineup as the person responsible for the burglary.

Women who answered the door at Henry’s home said that he was in jail and that he had struggled with drugs.

Atkins was taken aback by what occurred. She has lived in the neighborhood since the 1960s, she says.

She likes collecting antiques, going to garage sales, and collecting Coca-cola memorabilia - even though she prefers Pepsi.

The 80-year old cancer patient is having a hard time swallowing why her neighbor would be alleged to have committed such a crime.

“He shouldn’t have done it. He should have just took the money and run. (The money) he worked for. A crook is a crook,” she said.

Online court records show that Henry has previous charges related to theft, many of the charges were dismissed.

Franklin County court records show he was charged with burglary in 2004 and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Henry was also charged with theft in 2016 but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempt to commit an offense. He was sentenced to jail time and two years on probation, records show.

Henry is charged with a second-degree felony for burglary in connection to this week's incident.

He was arraigned Saturday morning. Henry received a $75,000 bond and is due in court again Oct. 1.