Iowa Home Invader Stopped Cold by Former Member of French Army
Breaking into a home is always a horrible idea but this alleged intruder picked a very bad house to enter.
As you can see from the image below, it happened in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 9. Just after 1:45 a.m., the man in the security camera still image is accused of breaking into one of Newton, Iowa's most famous homes.
According to the Newton Daily News, 35-year-old Joseph Mahl is charged with entering the August Bergman House on First Avenue East in Newton while it was occupied. Philippe Couillez and his wife, Megan, own the home. Philippe was in bed when he heard a noise downstairs. Megan was working outside the home when the family's security system alerted her to the break-in.
When Philippe heard a man's voice he knew the first noise he thought could be a family pet definitely was not. That's when he jumped out of bed to investigate and when he got to the top of the stairs, Philippe says Mahl was there too.
Philippe told the Newton Daily News he said to the man, “What are you doing? Who are you?... You need to leave or I’m calling the police!” The intruder would've been wise to leave right then. You see, Philippe was once in the French Army and he also holds a black belt in aikido, a Japanese martial art. He looks like a very sweet man, but you don't want to mess with him.
Philippe says after the home invader tried to punch him, he pushed the man down the stairs and called 911. The intruder was able to get back up the stairs, grabbed ahold of Philippe, and then struck him. Bad idea.
What to do? Philippe didn't want to badly injure the man, but he certainly did enough to put him on the ground. When police arrived, Mahl was already subdued. Note, the alleged intruder wasn't badly injured.
Mahl faces a variety of charges including public intoxication and first-degree burglary. He's also accused of spitting in the face of one Newton police officer, and being "assaultive" to arresting officers.
According to the City of Newton, the home where the incident occurred is the August Bergman House. It was built in 1909 at a cost of $17,000, making it the most expensive home built in Newton that year. August H. Bergman was an early investor in the Maytag Company and also served in the Iowa Senate for eight years, from 1922 to 1930.
The August Bergman House, pictured below in a 2013 Google Street View image, was a bed and breakfast for many years. Megan and Philippe Couillez purchased the home in 2019 and have been doing restoration work to bring it back to its past glory. According to the home's Wikipedia page, the home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.