When armed men invaded the Uecker home Wednesday 10-year-old Chris took refuge in a place that would usually worry parents: the clothes dryer.
The shattering of Abby Uecker's sense of security began after dinner with a knock on the door in their quiet neighborhood.
Three men, one armed with a shotgun, barged into the living room confronting her, husband C.J., and Chris, a wrestling champion in his age group.
When the bad guys broke in, Chris made a beeline through the kitchen to the laundry room where he squeezed into the dryer.
As one invader beat up C.J., Abby stole away to look for her son.
“He finally said, 'Mom!' and I heard him; I kind of knew where he's at,” Abby recounted. “He popped out of the dryer, and I said, 'Get back in; stay there.'”
The crooks took off with $200 and C.J.’s handgun.
After telling Chris it was safe to get out of the dryer, Abby called police. Minutes later police tracked down the suspected getaway car and arrested five men.
The five-- James Jackson, Gino Madrid, Thomas Gonzales, Marcus Ballard and Dennis Valdez
--were arraigned in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court on Friday. The charges against them include kidnapping, battery and child abuse.
Abby Uecker was in the courtroom and noticed a bandage on the hand of suspect Gino Madrid, the man she believes beat up her husband.
“I don't want the judge to say, 'We're going to give you the benefit of the doubt; we're going to lessen your bond,'" she said. "I'm truly scared that someone might try to come back and retaliate.”
Uecker said her son is worried, too, telling his parents he wants to take up karate so he can defend himself better.
Police said believe this may be a case of mistaken identity
because one suspect allegedly said they were looking for marijuana and a man named Dereck.
The Uecker home had neither a Dereck nor marijuana.