Nation Valley News
CHESTERVILLE — The apple-throwing marauders entered her carpeted living room and began pelting the place with rotten fruit before 90-year-old Laura David even realized what was happening within the sanctuary of personal and business memories that she calls home on South Street.
David, who celebrated a birthday Aug. 7, says she was standing at her kitchen sink when the intruder — or intruders, it’s not really clear — came to her attention sometime between 7 and 8 p.m.
“They were somewhere in here, and they would duck around there and throw apples,” she says, sitting in her living room three days after the Aug. 20 crime. “I would feel it and turn around and they were gone. So they had the whole house to play in, and they did,” she says, in the company of her visiting niece, Julia Lovell, 40, who hurried out from Toronto after learning of the incident two days after it happened. The pair had just returned from giving video evidence to police at the Winchester OPP station.
“I wasn’t sure what was happening, to tell you the truth,” says David, who later acknowledges being “shocked” at the intrusion.
Not a mere heartless prank, the home invaders got in by crushing the doorknob on the south-side entrance — evidence that Lovell showed reporters. “It’s not really identifiable to tell what kind of tool they used to get in,” she says, shortly before the arrival of a contractor to replace the doorknob. She was also arranging to have all of the locks changed at the place.
Very hard of hearing, the victim wouldn’t have heard the door being forced open that evening.
The attackers grabbed from old stacked-up boxes of apples the industrious David had gathered and assembled outdoors from the trees in her yard. They fired the red apples from both inside and outside the building, apparently throwing them through the open door on their way out. One of the missiles splattered all over the kitchen television screen.
“I think they’re insane,” says David, who was also hit a number of times on the back, neck and head but wasn’t hurt because the fruit was soft.
“I think they just stood there with a box of apples and kept whipping them at her,” says her niece. “They were whipping them at the house as well,” adds Lovell, with the exterior wood siding “riddled” with splattered apple impacts.
Aside from making a huge mess, the fruit “didn’t do that much damage,” she concedes. “But If they had picked [fresh] apples off the ground, they really could have done a lot of damage.”
She also suggests her aunt could have been killed if hit by “one” hard apple, given her age.
“I’m still shocked they had the nerve to do this,” says David, “the mentality, even.”
“What should I do, put a fence around the whole building? Even that wouldn’t keep them out.”
It’s obvious the sprawling house is a cherished dwelling to its owner. She notes repeatedly its 1978 construction was the culmination of 100 years of David family enterprise in Chesterville. The walls are adorned with the photos of late family members, about whom she’s eager to proudly talk. There’s a certificate, too, from Premier Bill Davis congratulating her late mother, Julia David, when she turned 90.
Lovell believes her aunt “was the target the entire time. I don’t know for what reason. I don’t know how you just randomly pick someone.”
Her wallet disappeared in recent days, as did the keys to her home and the A.T. David’s department store on Main Street, which she owns but has rarely opened to the public in the last few years. A former teacher, David returned to Chesterville from Montreal 25 years ago to take over the business following the death of her siblings.
“In my opinion, somebody followed her in here [into the house] one time. I think somebody’s been watching her. They just know her habits,” says Lovell.
Two days before the apple attack, someone entered the closed store and rifled through the cash register, locking the door on their way out with a key. Police have issued a report on that break-in as well.
Lovell says her aunt deserves to live at home and remains spry enough to do so, even using her riding mower to regularly cut the grass. She’s also thankful that “five young women” from the Harmony Church Drop-In Centre assisted with cleanup. “They did an amazing job! I was in tears after they left, I was so grateful,” she wrote in a follow-up email.
The SD&G OPP continue to investigate, having launched a full response when Lovell brought it to their attention as a break-in scene by calling 9-1-1 upon arrival in Chesterville. Ten officers with five vehicles, including the forensic identification unit, turned out at the site Aug. 23.
“I didn’t think to call the police because in the past, they haven’t been very helpful,” outspoken David bluntly offers.
Constable Joel Doiron told Nation Valley News that he “looks forward” to writing a press release announcing the arrest of the culprits, when that happens.