NE Portland woman finds stranger sleeping on son’s bed

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 9:49 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - A Northeast Portland resident says more needs to be done about growing problems in the city after a stranger walked into her home and fell asleep on her son’s bed.

On Monday, Kelsey Smith says she was out on her back deck talking to a friend on the phone when her dogs started barking at something. She went to check the front door because she was expecting contractors to come and work on her son’s accessible bathroom. She saw no one, closed the door, and continued talking to her friend while walking through her living room.

“The dogs continued to go crazy, specifically my chihuahua, which was running circles around my legs, which was really unusual,” said Smith. “I followed her to where the other dog was into my children’s bedroom. My lab was standing on top of the bed on top of a pile of clean clothes that I had thrown on there. I walked in wondering if she had cornered a mouse or something because she was going crazy and I realized there was a person under there.”

She at first thought it was her husband, so she called out his name. But after looking at the person for a second longer, she realized it was a stranger on her son’s bed.

“I backed out of the room, talking to my friend on the phone saying I needed help, that there was a homeless person in the kid’s bed,” said Smith. “At that point she leapt up, I recognized her as a woman. She hopped off the bed and picked up the ottoman at the foot of the bed and bum rushed me, threw it at me, and then meandered out the door.”

In a state of shock, Smith can be heard telling the woman to get out of her house off camera. Smith has a camera set up in her son’s room to monitor him for medical reasons.

“My first thought was what is going on?” said Smith. “The fear didn’t come until after she was gone and I started to run through the scenarios in my head about how this could have played out differently if my younger kids had been home. My 24-year-old son heard the commotion and came running upstairs, charging up the stairs because he knew something was wrong. He went straight out the door and into the street following her, calling 911.”

Smith says Portland police found the woman attempting to break into another home down the street. PPB confirms officers took 54-year-old Terri Lynn Zinser into custody, charging her with burglary in the first degree and harassment. Zinser was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center.

“I was glad she was caught,” said Smith. “I saw she obviously needed help, so I asked what would happen if they took her to a hospital. They told me she would be out within two hours. So I said ok, I want to press charges. This is not ok. Then I found out they released her the next day. That’s really disheartening considering we went through and looked at our Next Door app and there was another person who had posted a picture of her breaking into their house. I’ve had multiple people send me her arrest reports which is a very long list of trespassing, harassment, assault and burglary. I actually just spoke with my mail carrier today who told me she’s started to carry mace because the woman was harassing her, that she couldn’t walk down the street without the woman screaming at her, swearing at her, following her around. She told me she doesn’t feel safe around that woman.”

She reached out to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office regarding pressing charges, but was shocked at what she was told.

“They said the charges have been dropped and that I can leave a message for the DA and he can call you back,” said Smith. “I haven’t heard anything and that was two days ago. I have to assume someone heard that message and nobody has gotten back to me. I don’t understand why she is not in jail. She’s not harmless. She proved that. She’s proved that from the stories that I’ve heard from other people.”

FOX 12 reached out to the Multnomah County DA’s Office but has not heard back at this time.

“I feel like the city is declining rapidly and there is a need for more mental health services, more training for the police, probably more police, more community outreach, but I don’t know,” said Smith. “I’m not a city official. I don’t know what the answers are, but I do know that what they are doing right now is not working.”

Smith says she is concerned Zinser has been released but is thankful for the outpouring of support from her neighborhood after the terrifying ordeal.

“I have a really great group of neighbors surrounding me,” said Smith. “I think it’s really important to connect with your neighbors, get their contact information, exchange all that kind of stuff, and look out for each other. I know that they will.”