The police informer seemed to know all about it: A large cache
of machine guns and other firearms hidden in a suburban home in St.
Charles County that was a major distribution point for illegal
In a sworn affidavit to federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
agents, the informer described how he had bought and sold weapons
with people living in the house.
The result: more than a dozen heavily armed law officers in
black, SWAT uniforms burst into the home Tuesday night and held the
couple at g unpoint, turning the house upside down in a search for
There was one problem: The informer had made it up.
There were no guns in the home and never had been. The family
who lives there was innocent.
ATF admits raiding the wrong house but blames the informer.
"It's amazing to me that he didn't think we'd ever find out,"
Daniel Hoggatt, special agent in charge of the St. Louis field
office of the ATF, said Wednesday.
Even more amazing to the couple who own the home was that ATF
and the police didn't find out sooner.
"For the first 30 seconds, I thought they were burglars and I
was going to die," said Patty Mueller.
"If they could do this to us, they could do this to anybody,"
Here's the Muellers' story:
Patty, 35, and Paul Mueller, 38, live with their sons, 6 and 2,
at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac on Country Lane Court in
unincorporated St. Charles County. For two years, they've owned
their two-story home, on a half-acre lot in the Timberwood Trails
Paul is a self-employed painting contractor; Patty is a human
resources director for an electronics chain.
Their contacts with the law consist of traffic tickets. They
don't have so much as a BB gun in the house.
"We're your basic dorky family who goes to soccer games and
hangs out with their kids," Patty says.
At about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Muellers had finished putting
their boys to bed. Patty was writing birthday party invitations for
the couple's youngest son.
That's when more than a dozen men in black garb kicked open a
door and pointed guns at the couple.
They had entered through an unlocked outside garage door. Once
inside, instead of turning a handle to open the door to the
kitchen, they kicked in the door, breaking the frame, the couple
Kelly, the family dog, became frantic, and agents threatened to
shoot her, the couple said. Agents ordered Patty to lock the dog in
a bathroom. Then they told Patty to sit on a couch.
What she saw next was men in the foyer pointing guns at her
husband; he lay on the floor, his hands restrained by a plastic