My Scariest Experience

Hallie Altman knew something was wrong when an unfamiliar voice called down to the basement and told her and the other children to come upstairs. The voice was low. The sound was unsettling. It was harsh enough to startle the four children. Five-year-old Hallie Altman followed her older brother up the stairs while her stomach flipped in circles. The young siblings and their two friends already trembled with fear but had no idea what awaited them at the top.

The Altmans and the Iannicones were as close as two families could be. On Nov. 13, 2000, the families gathered at the home of the Iannicones to have dinner and socialize. The family dynamics were perfect together- both families had two children of the same ages who could play in the basement while the parents stayed in the kitchen for wine. But on this evening, both families would be traumatized by two uninvited guests.

When the children reached the top of the stairs, Hallie fell into shock at what she saw. Mrs. Iannicone sat on the couch and a man in all black held a gun to her forehead. All four parents had duct tape over their mouths and around their hands and feet. Before Hallie could take in what was going on around her, another man in all black snatched her by the wrist and began to duct tape her so she could not move. She fought tears but there was no use- she cried as she took in the sight of shiny silver tape restricting every person in the room. She was shaking with fear as she looked at Laura, the youngest Iannicone daughter, who stared at the gun stuck to her mother’s head.

The two men started screaming violently at the two families. “Be quiet!” they yelled. “Tell us where the money is or we pull the trigger.”

Hallie felt her heart race as she watched the two men rip the rings off her mother’s hands. The men had wild, bloodshot eyes- it as if they weren’t human beings, but monsters. It was at this moment that Hallie’s father began to motion the two men toward the front door. One of the men ripped the tape off Dave Altman’s mouth to hear what he was trying to tell them.

“There’s money in the car outside,” he said. Luckily, Hallie’s mom did everything last minute and had not deposited the money from Dr. Altman’s veterinary clinic that day. “You can take all of it. Just please leave without hurting us.”

To everyone’s surprise, the two men busted out of the house and were never seen again. In the mean time, Dr. Altman begun to break out of his tape, then helped everyone break free. Hallie sat on the floor traumatized at what she had seen. Everyone in the room stared blankly for a short second, then began to cry tears of relief. The men took the money and several valuable pieces of jewelry from the mothers- this included Mrs. Altman’s diamond wedding ring and a ring her grandmother had given her years ago. Mrs. Altman’s purse was found a week later in the New River outside of Jacksonville, NC, but nothing else from the incident was ever seen again.



The Mom Who Wouldn’t Gossip

I have always admired my mom, but lately I’m beginning to realize what makes her so incredible. She does not put down other people to make herself feel better.

When I was younger, this bothered me. I would come home from school or ballet practice wanting to gossip about anyone or anything. I remember specific times, usually the weeks following proms and homecoming dances, when all I wanted was talk about why I didn’t like anyone’s dresses or hair. “I don’t understand why she thought that dress looked good,” I remember saying to my mom. “It’s terrible. And the hair does not help.” Instead of feeding into this like all my friends’ mothers would do, my mom would try to find an underlying reason for why I wanted to talk about other people. “I don’t see what’s wrong with the dresses, Hallie,” she would say. “Not everyone cares as much as you do about appearance.” This normally resulted in a dramatic fit thrown by yours truly, followed by an even more dramatic stomp up the stairs. But recently, things have changed.

As I get older, I realize that my mom was never trying to anger me by refusing to speak negatively about other people. She is simply such a good person that she doesn’t need to put anyone down to make herself feel better. I can now look back at my high school self and realize that I got caught up in gossiping about things I didn’t even care about. Since graduation, I have tried to live the way my mom lives. She is the first person I call for advice because I know she will say the right thing. I have never met anyone as selfless as my mother and I hope that one day I will be half the person she is.