James Persyn III was watching his two younger sisters at home; his parents were out just a couple of miles away, so the 14-year-old was responsible.
But a few minutes in, he heard someone banging on the door. It was frantic, he remembered. He heard it was a woman, and she sounded like “she was going to die if I didn’t open that door.” So he did.
It was a horrifying sight—a battered woman was asking him whether his parents were home. James said no.
“They’re trying to kill me,” the woman got out. She had bruises on her face, packing tape around her body, and a broken arm she was trying to hold close to her body.
James quickly got her into the house, and then the woman told the kids they needed to hide. She told him someone had just tried to kidnap her, and he was still in pursuit.
James quickly rounded up his siblings and got everyone to hide in the bathroom. He instructed one of his younger siblings to call 911, and he quickly dialed his father and told him he needed to come home right now.
But before James’s father arrived, the kidnapper chasing the battered woman had made it to their house as well. He started banging on the door, then yelled “Let me in!” and they could hear it all from the corner they huddled in.
Then everything went silent.
The man, ex-con Eric Ramsey, was pouring gasoline on the house. When he finished, he went to find a starter, so he could send the entire house up in flames.
Luckily, James’s father had gotten the call in time and had raced back. He was able to get to Ramsey just as he set the gasoline alight, and stamped out the fires in time.
The police had shown up as well, and at first they were confused as to who was doing what between the two men.
“This is my house, we got to get it out,” Mr. Persyn told them.
The police apprehended Ramsey, and then Mr. Persyn entered the house with the officers. They found the children hiding in the bathroom along with the woman, a college student attending a school nearby.
The kids immediately ran into their father’s arms, and the woman, also shell-shocked, was taken to the hospital via ambulance to get treatment.
The family was terrified with what just happened, but later learned that Ramsey, violent and undetainable, had gotten shot and killed. He would not be back.
Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski later shared that young James had likely saved the young woman’s life. “If [James hadn’t] let her in, there’s no doubt in my mind that Ramsey would have ended up killing her.”