Man breaks into Port home, attacks homeowner

BRYAN EATON/Staff photo. Newburyport resident Patrick Chamberlin talks about the attack by an intruder with a hammer on him early Friday morning at his Rawson Avenue, which is being remodeled.

NEWBURYPORT — Police arrested an Amesbury man early Friday morning after he allegedly broke into a home near the hospital and beat a man over the head with a hammer as he struggled to get out of bed.

Newburyport police arrested and charged Robert J. Girard, 26, of 164 Whitehall Road, Amesbury, with several charges, including attempted murder.

At 10:49 p.m. Thursday, Newburyport police said they were dispatched to the Emergency Department at Anna Jaques Hospital, at 25 Highland Ave., for a report of a "walk-away patient," later identified as Girard. Police said he had fled the hospital after removing IVs and a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet, so they started searching for him.

Around 2 a.m., Patrick Chamberlin, 50, and his partner, Kristina Misita, 45, both of Newburyport, were asleep when they suddenly heard footsteps creaking up the staircase leading to their bedroom.

"When he came upstairs, he turned the hallway lights on and he came around the corner," Misita said. "He had come in and Pat was trying to get out of bed and he (the intruder) just hit him in the head with a hammer."

The couple's home, at 30 Rawson St., is undergoing construction and renovations, Chamberlin said. He believes this is where the suspect, Girard, found the hammer.

Chamberlin said the intruder was mostly naked and Chamberlin figured he had come from the hospital, which is directly across the street.

"I was yelling saying 'Hey, who is that?' and he stepped out and he was standing there with no clothes on except a sweatshirt and he had a hammer in his hand," Chamberlin said. "I can't really remember what I said, but he charged and he started tomahawking with the hammer."

At first, Chamberlin said he was unsure of what to do. He estimated the man hit him about four times on the skull as Chamberlin fought back.

"I started overpowering him and he decided he was done," said Chamberlin, who added the man allegedly rolled down the stairs and fled to the basement, which was covered in blood when a reporter was at the house Friday morning.

The suspect was standing behind a curtain in the basement and Chamberlin demanded he run out the side door of the house. The man would not leave at first, but then fled and ran down the road. From there, Chamberlin called the police, who arrived and took the man into custody.

Chamberlin said he believes the man had slit his wrists with part of a light bulb that smashed on the floor.

"I was covered in blood and they took me and cleaned me up," said Chamberlin, who noted the doors of his home were unlocked. "I've got some stitches, but I'm OK. I'm really lucky. That guy was trying to kill me, and we learned to lock our doors."

Chamberlin believes the man broke in through the basement door and was after a skateboard Chamberlin keeps in his home.

"I assumed he came up here and saw he wanted the skateboard and instead of just taking the skateboard, I guess he decided he was going to come upstairs," Chamberlin said. "I'm alive. He could've killed me."

According to the Newburyport police log, Girard was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; attempted murder; and attempted burglary while armed. Girard was held at the Newburyport Police Department pending his arraignment later Friday in Salem District Court. Newburyport District Court was not in session because the judges were at a conference.

Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.