BY JENNIFER CABRERA
Melanie Ann Saal, 28, was arrested yesterday afternoon after knocking on the door of a Haile Plantation home, claiming she needed help, and then allegedly letting herself in and wandering through the house.
An Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a call from a Haile Plantation homeowner at 11:07 a.m. yesterday. The caller said that a woman had come to her door, asked for help, and then entered without permission and walked through the house, rummaging through the victim’s possessions, threatening her, and screaming.
The victim’s husband had just left the house in his car and had left the garage door open. He observed a blue sedan driving down the road but continued to drive out of the neighborhood because the person in the car had not entered his property at the time.
The victim was inside her home with her two dogs and heard a knock on the door that opened to the garage. The woman at the door also had two dogs and appeared to be in distress, saying she needed help. There was a man standing behind her who claimed to be a romantic partner of the woman, and the victim was concerned that it was a domestic dispute. The victim went to call 911, and the woman, later identified as Saal, opened the door and entered the house while she was on the phone. Saal then allegedly walked through the house while looking through the residents’ possessions. The victim said she asked her to leave several times without success and that she was in fear for her safety.
When the deputy arrived, she found the blue car parked in the victim’s driveway and ran the tag, which was registered to Saal and her husband. She then reportedly found Saal inside the house and tried to talk to her about why she was there. The deputy asked her to come outside, and she eventually complied. Once outside, the deputy reported that Saal continued to ignore questions about the incident and began focusing on her dogs and the victim’s dogs. Saal allegedly went back inside the house; at that point, one of the victim’s dogs was inside, and one of Saal’s dogs was also inside. However, Saal focused on the victim’s dog and began claiming it was hers. Saal then allegedly sat on the ground and refused to follow any instructions, and the deputy had to call for backup.
While waiting for backup, the victim was holding one of her dogs when Saal jumped up, charged the victim, grabbed her arm, and hit her on the nose. The deputy reported that she was able to handcuff Saal. Saal was escorted to the deputy’s patrol car, and while the deputy was checking her pockets for weapons, Saal allegedly launched herself backwards, striking the deputy with her upper back and shoulder, causing the deputy’s radio mic to fly backwards.
After more deputies arrived, Saal allegedly continued to “slam her body” around the patrol car, moved her cuffs to the front of her body, and slipped her hands out of the cuffs. She then allegedly began unscrewing the screws holding the cage in place, ripped open a trash container that was in the car, and threw a Gatorade bottle at the deputy.
Saal’s husband then arrived (the report does not state when he left after being in the garage earlier) and told deputies that she has a history of depression, panic attacks, and outbursts and that she may have taken ketamine. Saal was arrested for a similar incident last August when she knocked on a series of apartment doors, professing concern about the dogs she saw inside and forcing her way into at least one apartment. She was formally charged in the incident and prosecutors had a list of 11 witnesses, including 8 law enforcement officers, but charges were later dropped.
Saal’s husband told deputies that she had been confrontational and aggressive upon waking up that morning and had left the house to drive to Tampa, but instead he had followed her to Haile Plantation. He said they were unfamiliar with the neighborhood, that it had been picked at random, and that he believed Saal had picked the house at random when he approached her.
Saal has been charged with burglary with battery, battery on a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest with violence. She is being held on $50,000 bail.
Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.