This is a story about poor health, bad luck, persistent thieves and a motor home from Connecticut.
It starts simply enough: A retired woman travels to visit a sick friend. That's all 63-year-old Olive Filosi had in mind Monday morning when she started her camper and left her Groton, Conn., home for Washington.
But by Thursday, she found herself inside George Washington University Hospital, recovering from a heart attack. And her camper had been burglarized not once, not twice, but three times.
Filosi arrived in Northwest Washington Monday night and was greeted by Esther Kernozek, a friend who had just checked out of Bethesda Naval Hospital. Everything was fine. Until Tuesday morning.
That's when Filosi struggled from her camper, parked in an alley in the 1500 block of 15th Street NW, and told passers-by she was having trouble breathing. And that's when a wave of bad luck began to crest.
An ambulance came, and a small crowd gathered. An hour later, after the haste and confusion had passed, Kernozek's 40-year-old son Paul began to lock the windows and doors of the camper. But he noticed Filosi's watch, a family heirloom, was missing. Gone also was a portable television.
Preoccupied by Filosi's health problems, Paul Kernozek said he did not call police. Instead, he moved the camper from the alley, parking it beneath a light on 15th Street. It would be safer there, he thought.
On Wednesday morning, Esther Kernozek went inside the camper to retrieve some of Filosi's clothes. Again, it had been burglarized. "This time it had been ransacked," Paul Kernozek said.
Paul Kernozek, figuring the thieves were gone for good, again did not call police. This time, he locked the camper more tightly -- tying wire cords around the window and door locks. Filosi still had not been told of the thefts.
"We didn't know what effect it might have on her heart," Kernozek said. "And we thought this mess was over."
It wasn't. On Thursday morning, there had been yet another burglary. "The insides were thoroughly taken apart," Paul Kernozek said.
"You know, at this point, the shock and horror had worn off," he said.
With some trepidation, Kernozek said he and his mother finally told Filosi what had happened, and informed Filosi's daughter, 24-year-old Kim McClendathan, who also lives in Groton.
The elder Filosi -- whose condition was upgraded that day from critical to guarded -- called police from the hospital, her daughter said, and asked them to please try to watch the camper.
Later that evening, McClendathan frantically called 3rd District police from Groton, asking them if she could file a complaint and wondering if the camper could be driven to the police station -- where it surely would be safe -- until she could get to Washington.
"They told me a family member had to fill out a complaint report and that I couldn't file a complaint long-distance," McClendathan said. "They said they couldn't promise me that the camper could be protected, because everyone was really busy. And they said if it was moved in front of the police station, it would probably be ticketed and towed."
Officer Colonel Duvall of the 3rd District said he sympathized with Filosi's misfortune, but that there was little the police could do without having a report filed.
"What they should have done is called the police outright after the first time it happened," Duvall said.
McClendathan said she was planning to drive to Washington last night and hoped to resolve the matter.