MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — Kellie McKenna’s 3-year-old daughter, Emma, woke her early Wednesday morning.
It was 12:36 a.m. — McKenna knows that because she looked immediately at her clock — and someone was knocking on the door of her home in the Del Haven section of the township.
When she cracked open the door, a man wearing a clown mask and holding a long gun resembling a rifle or shotgun broke into the house, McKenna said.
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Police say the intruder was a convicted felon named Joseph Macklin, 31, of North Wildwood.
“I was terrified,” McKenna, 24, said. “I thought I was dead.”
The masked man demanded $3,000, the amount McKenna had raised earlier that day to bail her boyfriend out of jail. She told him she didn’t have the money in the house, but he persisted.
“He was here for an hour and my daughter was hiding under the blanket for an hour,” McKenna said.
In the end, the gunman settled for $70 in cash from McKenna’s wallet, her debit card, her boyfriend’s cell phone and some change that was lying around the house, she said.
Macklin was arrested and charged with armed robbery, burglary, certain person not to possess firearms, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, criminal restraint and endangering the welfare of a child, police said Thursday.
He was held on $300,000 bail at Cape May County jail in Cape May Court House, police said.
“Now that he’s in jail, I feel more comfortable,” McKenna said.
Neither McKenna nor her daughter Emma was hurt in the incident.
“I think I did pretty well,” McKenna said.
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She said she met Macklin for the first time earlier in the day on Wednesday.
He had come along with one of her friends to her house in an effort to free her boyfriend, Tito Arroyo, who McKenna believes was unjustly charged and imprisoned.
McKenna said she thought Macklin was the masked man after seeing similarities — the light blue eyes and a distinctive neck tattoo — during the robbery.
“He kept saying ‘this is an inside job,’” McKenna added.
She said he searched the entire house — the sink, the couches, under the mattresses, through closets and drawers — looking for the $3,000.
“I was begging him to leave,” McKenna said.
In the aftermath of the break-in, McKenna said she worried about how her daughter would respond to the traumatic incident. She said she couldn’t imagine seeing something like that when she was Emma’s age.
“My daughter, she was so brave,” McKenna said.
After the robbery, McKenna remembered Emma saying: “I thought he was going to shoot my mommy.”
Macklin was arrested without incident in North Wildwood, police said.
In 2005, he was arrested and charged after, police said, they found him with a large amount of drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.