NORMANDY, Mo. — A St. Louis County has its Christmas back, thanks to fast work from the Normandy Police Department.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that two suspects broke into the Lilly family home in the north St. Louis County community on Dec. 15 and stole the family's Christmas presents from under the tree while the family was at church.
The thieves even unwrapped the presents and left the paper.
"They unwrapped every single one," Timothy Lilly said. "There was wrapping paper everywhere. My kids just fell to the floor crying. It was supposed to be their Christmas, and somebody had taken it."
Police said clues came together fast, including footprints in the snow. Officers saw the same prints outside another home that had been broken into days earlier, the home of a disabled 62-year-old woman.
When one of the alleged thieves bragged about it when he went back to Sumner High School, word filtered back to police. Days later, Leonard Dailey, 18, was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary and one count of stealing. He did not have a listed attorney. Police are still searching for the accomplice. Dailey said he sold the gifts.
Police say Dailey and the accomplice broke into the Lilly home through a window and made off with electronics, shoes and clothing. The gifts had a value of about $2,000.
"My wife and my oldest daughter worked on nickel and diming it to make sure we had a good Christmas," said Lilly, who is on medical disability.
Normandy Police Chief Frank Mininni on Monday surprised Lilly with about $300 in gift certificates his department donated to make up for some of the stolen gifts.
"Most of us have kids around here, and we wanted to put them in jail and see you have a happy Christmas," he said.
Lilly said crime "tests your faith, but I still feel that if you do the right things, it will come back to you."