She came home from school to find a stranger walking his dog leaving her house

A student in Everson got quite a shock Thursday afternoon when she returned home from school to see an unknown man with a big, black dog leave the back door of her family’s house.

After a search of the neighborhood, Everson Police booked John Wylie Schaaf, 34, into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of residential burglary.

At about 2:50 p.m., Everson Police Chief Dan MacPhee said, the student returned to her home in the 100 block of Poplar Drive and went around to the back door to go inside, only to see the man and his dog leaving the house. She yelled and ran to a neighbor’s house.

She described the suspect to police as a man with a shaved head, wearing a black hoodie and red shorts, walking a dog.

Officers arrived and checked the house, MacPhee said, and did not find anyone inside, though someone had rearranged some items inside and “made a mess.”

Witnesses also told police they saw a man matching the suspect’s description walking a dog away from the house and heading west down another neighborhood street.

Officers did house checks in the area, MacPhee said, until they found a man matching the description in the 100 block of Aspen Drive. MacPhee said they called for the man to come out, and Schaaf, who lived at that house, emerged and appeared to be “heavily intoxicated.”

“He did have a recollection of walking his dog and being inside a building,” MacPhee said, “but he didn’t give us any more specific information. ... He did not want to get into details about how he got into the house, but he did recall being confronted by a young lady and being yelled at to get out of the house, and he did.”

MacPhee said Schaff was taken into custody. The victim’s family told police nothing appeared to be missing from the house and no damage was reported.

Police are still investigating how Schaaf got into the house, MacPhee said.