The annals of crime are full of brilliant outlaws who rejoice in using their sinister talents to confound investigators.
Usually, those people are serial bank robbers and murderers, but in Euclid, Ohio, a suburban hamlet bordering Cleveland, the mastermind is an egg-thrower.
Not just any prankish egg-thrower, but a sophisticated launcher of yolk who has eluded capture for more than a year despite more than 100 brazen attacks, sometimes while authorities are on hand.
The victim is 85-year-old Albert Clemens Sr., a widower whose modest, two-story abode is spattered with the gooey remnants of countless assaults, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. He and his late wife bought the home as newlyweds 60 years ago, and he currently lives there with his two adult children.
The, um, shelling usually begins at night and is carried out with astonishing precision. Clemens told the media group that the 10-minute-long attacks have “ruined” his property “and “kept his family on edge.”
“The accuracy is phenomenal,” Clemens told NEOMG, noting that the attacks occur as late as 2 a.m. and sound like “a gunshot” when they land. “Because almost every time when it’s nice weather and they launch five or six of these at a time, they almost invariably hit the front door.”
Other items, such as apples, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and canned goods, also have been thrown at the home, according to Fox 8 Cleveland.
As for suspects, there’s been little luck. Police, neighbors and Clemens himself say they’re not only baffled, but also frustrated. Police Lt. Mitch Houser,a 20-year veteran, told NEOMG that he’s never seen an act of vandalism rivaling this one. He said investigators have devoted hundreds of hours to solving the mystery.
“The man-hours put into that investigation were huge and one of the reasons it’s so frustrating that we don’t have somebody right now that we can criminally charge,” he said.
Not that they haven’t tried.
At one point, NEOMG reports, the department’s entire community policing was devoted to solving the crime. Officers — who are located a mile from Clemens home and respond quickly to each attack — have canvassed the neighborhood, interviewing neighbors and handing out fliers. They’ve performed stakeouts, installed a surveillance camera on the home and even sent eggshell samples to their crime lab for testing, according to NEOMG.
Results traced the shells to a local Amish farm, where the trail went cold, NEOMG reported.
Police believe the eggs are being launched from within a one or two block radius, according to NEOMG. Clemens suspected a neighbor might be involved until officers witnessed the neighbor standing outside while an attack began in front of police, according to NEOMG. Another neighbor, who Clemens suspected was involved in drug activity, also was on Clemens’s radar, but investigators haven’t tied the man to the attacks.
“Somebody is deeply, deeply angry at somebody in that household for some reason,” Houser told NEOMG.
An effort to collect fingerprints from the shells failed as well, when investigators found that upon breaking an egg releases proteins that destroy DNA, according to Houser.
Both Clemens and investigators, NEOMG reported, are working under the theory that the culprit has access to an unending supply of eggs or is “stealing them from businesses that throw them out when they go bad.” Detectives have gone as far as visiting local restaurants and businesses to inquire about missing eggs but have had no luck, according to NEOMG.
“The person or people who are doing it have remained very tight-lipped apparently,” Houser told NEOMG. “I would imagine it would be hard to keep a secret of something that had been done hundreds of times and for nobody to step forward to talk about it.”
Nevertheless, police, who have bumped their original $500 reward up to $1,000, sound bruised but not beaten.
“We’ll continue to put effort into it until we figure something out,” Houser told NEOMG.
Clemens isn’t giving up either.
He’s stopped cleaning up after each attack and his insurance company is refusing to settle a claim until the egg tosser is arrested, according to NEOMG.
Despite the attack, Clemens refuses to consider moving.
“I like the neighborhood,” he told NEOMG. “I like the city of Euclid. I would live and die in this house — but it’s been kind of a nightmare.”