Eric Shults returned home after walking his dog Monday night to a terrifying sight: his wife sitting at the dining room table, bound at the wrists and ankles and blindfolded by a kitchen apron tied down with hairdryer cord.
Then a man brandishing a knife told him to sit down in the living room and tied him up, too. The man said he needed to pay for his baby's medical expenses.
Over the next approximately 90 minutes, the Kansas City couple's home was ransacked as they sat across the large, open room from one another. At times, Trina Shults could glimpse through a nickel-sized air hole the robber cut to help with her asthma. Otherwise, the couple were essentially blind as the harrowing act unfolded around them.
When the Shultses, who are both in their early 50s, tried to communicate with one another, the man threatened them.
"He said if I didn't do what he said, he was going to gut me like a fish," Trina Shults said.
From about 8:45 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at their home near Blue Ridge Boulevard and 47th Street, the couple worried their son and niece would return home with the man still inside.
As he was leaving, in the couple's Ford Escape, their son and niece did arrive. The man told them to drop their phones and go save their parents.
The robber said he picked the couple's house because he saw the Escape parked in the driveway.
"He said, 'I want to escape my nightmares. There's a Ford Escape; that's the house I'm going to target,'" Eric Shults said.
Jason Hance, 34, was arrested hours later at a hotel room that Kansas City police traced using one of the couple's stolen phones.
He is charged with two counts of robbery and kidnapping, four counts of armed criminal action and one count of burglary.
His residence is in New York, according to court records.
"He said he was trying to get money to help his daughter," Trina Shults said. "He said she has a congenital heart disorder."
Eric and Trina Shults were skeptical of the story, saying he may have used it to gain sympathy.
But they didn't completely disregard it, either. While bound and blindfolded, Trina Shults said she offered to help the man ransacking her home, hammering into drywall to rip a television off the wall and collecting items such as old digital cameras, laptops, tablets, steak knives, Q-tips and bandages.
He asked permission to drink the rest of their orange juice.
To Trina Shults' offers of help for his baby, the man responded, "You are helping me. I'm going to take everything I can to sell it to help her."
Eric Shults said he feared for his life throughout the ordeal.
One of their back windows was broken, they noticed later.
As Eric Shults left to walk the dog, unaware of the intruder, the intruder grabbed Trina Shults and held a knife to her neck, she said.
The incident traumatized her. She gained some comfort when Watchmen Security Services, where her daughter works, installed an alarm system at their home.
But she remained rattled Wednesday night when contacted by The Star.
"If you think your house is secure, double-check," she said. "Everything in our home was locked, and someone still got in."
Hance's bond was set at $150,000.