New Milford family living in fear of neighbor accused of summer break-in

NEW MILFORD — For more than six months, the four Finkle siblings, all in their 60s, have lived in fear of the neighbor accused of invading their home on Sandy Acres Lane.

Since the June 19 attack, the family has fumed at delays in the court process, said Bee Finkle, 61, who tried to fight-off 33-year-old Michael Saunders with a baseball bat before police arrived one balmy night.

Saunders’ case has been on the court docket six times since he was charged, court records show. Time after time the case was continued and Saunders, who posted $150,000 bond, returned to the house he shares with his mother, Donna Saunders, next door to the Finkles.

Bee said she has been to four of the six court appearances. She said she walked out of one — where yet another continuance was granted — in disgust.

“You feel like it’s a no-win situation,” Bee said. “He just keeps getting his way.”

Last week, Saunders was arrested again, charged with disorderly conduct. New Milford police did not provide details of the new charge.

Bond was originally set at $2,500, but reduced to a written promise to appear in court, according to court documents.

Neither Saunders nor his attorney, Donald Cretella, could be reached for comment late last week. Donna Saunders did not respond to a request for comment when reached by phone Friday.

Meanwhile, the Finkle family — sisters Bee and JoAnne, brothers Mike and Buddy — have tried to restore a sense of security to their home.

They recently outfitted the house with eight cameras. Ninety-three-pound Bee has become something of a watchdog, monitoring the camera feeds and watching the doors and windows when she is home.

“We put in the cameras, so I’m not running to the window every time,” Bee said. “For a while, I was going to bed with a bat, a phone and a stun gun. The minute I heard the wind, I was up.”

Saunders hasn’t bothered them, she said, but after the summer attack, “you never know when he’s going to snap again.”

According to police, Saunders charged into the Finkle home June 19, yelling about invisible pursuers. Bee and JoAnne tried to keep him out, but he broke through the back door and into the kitchen, where he fought with Bee and Mike Finkle.

By the time police arrived, “blood was all over the kitchen like a pig was slaughtered,” JoAnne has said.

Saunders has pleaded not guilty to all five charges stemming from the arrest, including felony home invasion and felony second-degree assault. He has yet to plead on the disorderly conduct charge.

“As far as we’re concened, he’s like a firecracker waiting to go off again,” Bee said. “We just keep waiting, saying it’s in God’s hands.”; 203-731-3411; @bglytton