The home of Dillingham resident Billie Benedict was ransacked this month while she was away for medical reasons. Now, several community members have reached out to help.
Billie Benedict was medevaced to Anchorage last May and spent four months in a hospital there. She was in home hospital care in Washington state for another five months before coming back with her daughter to move some belongings.
Benedict had asked someone to watch her place while she recovered.
But people were staying there without her permission, and word got out that they took some of her belongings. When she heard what happened, she was in shock.
“Sorrowful, I think is the biggest thing I felt," Benedict said. "It was orchestrated by someone that I thought was a friend that I trusted for a longtime. That was a total sense of betrayal for me.”
Benedict and her daughter Carrie Hopkins returned in early June, Hopkins said that as they pulled into the driveway, they saw people throwing things out of the house and off the patio.
“There was a mountain of duffle bags and garbage bags, they were just cleaning out the house," she said. "Not knowing what we were walking into I asked my mom to stay in the truck and I got them out of here. We walked into almost an empty house. They even removed the toilet from upstairs; deconstructed the whole bathroom; the shelves; the vanity; our bedding and beds.”
But the most valued item that was stolen was a Christmas gift from Benedict’s late husband: An antique Sterling Silverware set, “Silver Plumes by Towle” that was discontinued in the 1920s.
“That one hurt more than anything," Benedict said. "It means a lot to me, more than the monetary value. But the rest of it you know, after you get over the shock, the things that really matter I still have. And that’s a real thing to think about.”
Benedict shared what happened on a Facebook community page “The Dillingham Trading Post.” Hundreds of residents responded with messages of compassion and sympathy. She said the support she’s received from the community was overwhelming.
“I’ve had so many people offer to help me, ‘what do you need,’ I had a friend bring over bubble wrap and packing stuff, we had a flat tire and two guys stopped and fixed it," she said. "There’s just so many good things that happened here. You have to be uplifted by that.”
People have helped in other ways, too. They gave Benedict and her daughter bedding, and neighbors have cooked food for them almost every night since they returned.
Benedict will be moving to Washington in the next two weeks to be closer to medical care and family. Several friends are helping her pack up and clean, and she’s hosting a garage sale to get rid of things she does not need.
But she said she won’t be away forever.
“It’s just been a real challenge," Benedict said. "But in the end it’s all been positive. I’m alive, I’m pretty healthy and I’m keeping that piece of land over there so I can come back in the summertime and check in because this is my home. I have always loved Dillingham, I love it with all my heart. There’s been a real outreach, thank you to all of them. Thank you so much.”
Benedict has lived in Dillingham for 45 years. She was the president of the Chamber of Commerce when it was founded, she chaired the Dillingham Historic Commission, owned a fireworks stand and is well known for her nachos at the annual Christmas Bazaar.
Police were notified of the incident last week and are investigating the situation. No one has yet to be charged. If you have information about the incident, contact the Dillingham Police Department at 907-842-5354.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-842-2200