Daughter arrested after Windermere home invasion
2 suspects arrested in invasion where family tied up, father severely beaten
Local 6 has learned two suspects have been arrested in a brutal home invasion where a family was tied up and a father was severely beaten.
One of the arrests, includes the father's own daughter.
Mary Ellen Christensen sits behind bars after Orange County deputies said she confessed to her role in the crime, said deputies.
It happened at Wayne Smalley's Windermere home on Oct. 23, and started when a strange man knocked on the front door asking to use the phone, said a deputy's report. Two men forced their way in, then attacked and bound Smalley, Madeline Smalley, and Michelle Stone with duct tape.
One victim was grabbed by the throat, another was dragged back into the house, but the father may have suffered the most severe injuries.
The report said Smalley is a disabled combat veteran and the attack broke a rib and punctured a lung. Since then, he's been in and out of the hospital with an unknown prognosis for recovery.
Moments after the crime, Windermere police chased the suspects before they crashed an SUV stolen from the victim. The suspects eluded police, and three weeks went by with no arrest.
The case went without leads, until Christensen's mother, Grace Smalley, saw sketches of her daughter's friends on television news reports about her ex-husband's attack.
The victims identified Michael Tyrone Ford, Jr. and deputies arrested him, but the second suspect, Rezlin Antwan Thomas, has not been captured despite a warrant for his arrest.
Christensen has only confessed to dropping the men off to commit the crime and picking them up after.
All three suspects face similar charges including attempted second degree murder, home invasion robbery, false imprisonment, and grand theft.