WARREN - Nicholas Bohurjak thought he was dead after two men choked him unconscious with bungee cords in his basement after they posed as prospective buyers of his Central Parkway S.E. home.
Bohurjak, 63, a part-time U.S. Forest Service employee and a substitute teacher, said when the two men showed up at his 2218 Central Parkway S.E. home Sunday afternoon, he was excited. He had a few people interested in the home after he first put the home up for sale, but the two men were the first in a while.
After only a few minutes in the home, one man tackled him while another grabbed bungee cords and choked him until he lost consciousness, according to a police report. They stole his light blue 1988 Toyota 4Runner truck, a juicer, a ladder, his scuba-diving wet suit and a jar of coins before fleeing.
"I thought I was dead," said Bohurjak, who has bruises several inches long on each side of his throat. "Maybe in a sense I wish I was rather than go through all this."
Detectives tracked down two men Monday after spotting the truck.
On Tuesday, Ritchie L. Paden, 30, of 1440 DeForest Road S.E., and Jermaine Johnson, 35, 2678 Wick St. S.E., were charged with first-degree felony aggravated burglary charges. They will likely be arraigned today in Warren Municipal Court.
Tribune Chronicle / Adam Ferrise
Nicholas Bohurjak recounts being choked by two men posing as buyers at his Warren home on Sunday.
Both men have previous criminal histories.
Bohurjak said he's selling his home himself in order to move away from Warren. His parents lived at the home for more than 50 years, and he had returned to Warren to care for them in recent years, he said.
When the duo came to his home, Bohurjak said he initially told them they could have the television and stove if they bought the house.
Tips for showing a house safely
Always try to have at least one other person working with you when showing a house.
Check your cell phone's strength and signal prior to an open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several "escape" routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
When showing a house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don't lead them. Say, for example, "The kitchen is on your left," and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
Avoid attics, basements and getting trapped in small rooms.
Notify someone that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don't call, they are to call you.
Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
Don't assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.
Source: National Association of Realtors
He said one of the men went down the basement and another stayed upstairs with him. When they all went to the basement, one man tackled him while the other choked him with the bungee cords.
"It was so surreal," he said.
Bohurjak said he woke up, he felt like he suffered a stroke or was in a dream. He walked upstairs and fell asleep he said. He woke up at some point, called 911 and talked to police, but doesn't remember doing any of that.
He said he woke up later in the night and called 911 dispatch and they told him he already talked to police.
Reports said officers stopped the light blue 1998 Toyota 4Runner at about noon Monday at the intersection of Main Avenue and Fulton Street S.W. and apprehended two men in it. Police returned his truck.
Bohurjak said while he was cleaning out the truck Tuesday, he found his juicer in the back seat and Johnson's identification card wedged between the front seats.
Bohurjak said he still feels like he's in a daze and is still coughing up blood. He went to St. Joseph Health Center on Monday and the doctors there cleared him of any serious medical issues.
"My personality is too trusting," Bohurjak said. "I can't help but feel violated."