When Davis Wahlman heard something strange in his attic, he decided to investigate.
He’d been housesitting for the summer, and for the most part, everything had gone smoothly. That changed when he returned to the home after a weekend at his family’s cabin.
“I got back Sunday night,” Wahlman tells Urbo. “A buddy was with me. I remember we watched Game of Thrones. He left that night, but nothing seemed off or amiss.”
But the next night, Wahlman came home from work around 11 p.m. and immediately noticed something unusual.
“It was weird, the upstairs light in my parents’ room was on,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is odd,’ but my parents were in and out of the house all the time.”
He didn’t think much of it; his parents had probably stopped in and left the light on by accident.
“They leave the blinds closed in the summer. If they’d stopped in, even during the day, it totally made sense that they’d leave the light on. And that was the only thing was weird. Nothing else was out of place, nothing else would have tipped me off that there was someone else in the house.”
He went to sleep. As far as he was concerned, it was a normal night. Early on Tuesday morning, Wahlman awoke to strange noises.
He immediately knew that someone was in his attic.
“I heard someone up above me,” Wahlman says. “My first thought was that my mom must have come home early and was doing something in the attic. My mom keeps a very clean attic, let me tell you.”
Still, he didn’t understand why his mother would be there in the early morning—especially during the summer, when she was frequently out of town.
He decided to investigate, but when he tried to open the office door that leads to the attic, he discovered that it was locked.
“When I tried to open the door and it was locked from the inside, that’s when I knew that something was really weird,” he says. “My mom would never lock the door to the office.”
He immediately began knocking on the door. That might seem like an unusual reaction, but Wahlman still believed that the intruder was one of his parents.
“I knock on the door and say, ‘Mom,’ and the first time, I didn’t get an answer,” he recalls. “I grab my phone and I’m about to dial 911, and that’s when I’m like, ‘I’ve got to try one more time.’ I didn’t want to call the cops, in case it was my mom.”
That’s when he heard a woman’s voice coming from the other side of the door.
“‘Jimmy? Is that you, Jimmy?'” the voice said.
Wahlman doesn’t know anyone by that name.
“I thought, ‘who the hell is Jimmy?'” he says. The woman insisted that “Jimmy” told her that she could stay at the house, remarking that she’d been there for three days. Realizing that the woman might be mentally unstable, Wahlman called the police.
“I said, ‘Excuse me, one moment,’ and that’s when I dialed 911,” he says. “It was so awkward.”
He tried to keep the stranger from fleeing his home. He didn’t want to physically restrain her; a journalist by trade, Wahlman has covered plenty of stories involving home invasions, and he wanted to deescalate the situation, if possible.
“I didn’t want to grab her,” he says. “She kind of kept advancing toward me, and I was taking a very defensive [position]. ‘No! Stay where you are, stay where you are. And she’d say something like, ‘Can I use the bathroom?’ or ‘Can I use the shower?'”
“And I’d say, ‘No, you can’t use those things, you need to stay here until we can sort this out with this police.’ And she kind of walked me down the stairs.”
Why are you doing this?
Once outside, the woman asked if she could sit on the porch. Wahlman gave his permission, then kept talking with the police dispatcher.
“That’s when I kind of let my guard down a little bit,” he says. “Her back was to me, she sits down on the porch. I looked the other way, then in a flash, she was just gone. She must have bolted, because I’m pretty quick, and I ran around my entire house. I didn’t see even a hint of where she might have gone … She disappeared into thin air.”
When searching the house later, Wahlman found a busted window screen. A ladder from the attic was in the yard, and he now believes that a second person—”Jimmy”—was staying in his house.
While noting that he appreciates the Seattle police, Wahlman says that he was disappointed at their response time. He claims that officers didn’t respond for a full 18 minutes.
For their part, the police say that they dispatched an officer within four minutes of the report. Wahlman counters that emergency responders should work more quickly.
“I know that any police department or emergency response agency worth their salt is going to try to get within a 90-second window,” Wahlman says of the response time. “I would think with a big city like Seattle, I want to believe that they’re going to want to get there in under five minutes, especially when I’m on the phone with dispatch saying, ‘Hey, I’m literally face-to-face with an intruder in my home right now. Help me out, here!'”
Nevertheless, the baffled homeowner doesn’t believe that the suspect had nefarious intentions. While she moved a few of his personal items around, the attic was mostly undisturbed, although over the course of the last year, Wahlman’s mother has noticed a few missing items.
According to Wahlman, the woman was wearing gym warm-up pants and a black track jacket with a white hood. She also had a backpack and shoulder-length brunette hair; she identified herself as “Sarah.”
“It’s just weird, you know?” he says.
Wahlman says that he’s confused by how the woman got into his house, as the entrance window wasn’t easily accessible. While he keeps the fire escape ladder in the attic, she wouldn’t have been able to access that ladder when breaking into the property. Besides, Wahlman said, his neighbors would have likely noticed the intrusion.
Shortly after the event, a locksmith replaced the locks in the home. While Wahlman made a report, he says that he doesn’t believe the Seattle police ever found the woman.
Wahlman’s story spread quickly, both through local media and national publications (not to mention sites like Urbo; we published our first version of this story in early 2017). Most people would consider the encounter frightening, but to Wahlman, it was more of an inconvenience.
“It didn’t feel creepy,” he says. “Honestly, I’m a non-confrontational person, so I was more like, ‘Why are you doing this?'”
We asked whether he’s concerned that police never apprehended the intruder.
“No, it doesn’t worry me,” he says. “I know the Seattle police do everything they can … I work in news, and you come across stories like this all the time where it’s just bizarre run-ins with people. If they don’t catch them soon, there’s not a whole lot to go on.”
“I have no idea [why the story went viral]. This type of thing probably happens all the time.”
Wahlman’s case is strange, but he’s not the only homeowner to find an unwelcome guest.
In 2012, a Rock Hill, South Carolina resident discovered an ex-boyfriend living in her attic—more than 12 years after they’d broken up.
It’s got me flabbergasted.
The woman, named Tracy (her last name was withheld from publication for her protection), heard a loud “thump” in her attic and noticed that some of the nails in her ceiling were coming loose.
Initially, she says that she thought that “there was some poltergeist stuff going on,” so she asked her adult sons to investigate.
Their discovery was disturbing, to say the least.
“They found a man,” Tracy told WCNC. “He had packed all the old coats and jackets into the heating unit and was sleeping in the heating unit.”
While Tracy’s sons attempted to hold the man in place, he escaped before police could arrive. Investigators found some disturbing evidence at the scene; the man allegedly rigged the air vents so that he could watch Tracy sleep.
“It’s got me flabbergasted,” Tracy told The Charlotte Observer. “How can you look at someone through an air vent?”
The creepy story made national headlines, and Tracy told reporters that she was fortunate to be alive.
“I want him to be charged with it,” she said to The Wichita Eagle. “It could be somebody else he does the same thing to, but she might not be so lucky.”
But the creepiest case of an unexpected co-tenant comes from a man named Joe Cummings.
“So I kept on finding food missing in my apartment that I knew I wasn’t eating,” Cummings said in a YouTube video about his bizarre encounter. “I confronted my girlfriend who lives with me about it, and she claimed that she wasn’t eating it, so I decided that I’d set up a video camera, and I’d catch her.”
The video is extremely disturbing. It shows Cummings putting food away and leaving the room…and a strange woman crawling out from a storage area above the kitchen.
“It does go pretty deep back in there, almost all the way to over the stove/kitchen area,” Cummings wrote in the video’s comments. “She had set up a little nook for herself.”
This is every bit as real and messed up as it seems.
As soon as Cummings saw the video, he says he left the apartment and called the police from a safe location. The police arrested the strange woman. When asked how she’d gotten up there, Cummings was mystified.
“The only way she could have gotten in is through the window, as I am on the top floor and there is a fire escape,” he wrote. “The police think she was probably coming in to rob me when I was gone and decided to stow away in the crawl space. Supposedly this isn’t the first time the cops had come across something like this.”
Cummings added that according to the police, the woman had likely lived in the small, cramped space for several weeks, coming out on occasion for food and water.
There is a caveat to this story: Cummings is a professional actor, and we couldn’t find reputable sources who had looked into his story (although The San Francisco Globe did post a brief article about it). Still, Cummings insists that he’s telling the truth.
“This is every bit as real and messed up as it seems,” he wrote.
We can’t say for certain whether it is or isn’t, but while we’d like to take Cummings at his word, his actions in the video look a little strange. In any case, it’s unnerving stuff. Check out the clip below and see for yourself.