The holiday season is a time for surprises -- surprise parties, surprise visits, surprise gifts to name a few. But for one Pennsylvania family, the biggest surprise came when it found a man living in its attic.
Police said 21-year-old Stanley Carter had been living with Stacy Ferrance and her three children for a week, eating their food, stealing their cash and Christmas presents, even wearing their clothes.
"I heard noises, but I never suspected anything," Ferrance's son Cory told "Good Morning America." "We have two cats, and I think, My mom could be getting a drink in the middle of the night."
The Ferrance family was tipped off that something was seriously amiss when its belongings started to disappear.
"My daughter's brand new iPod nano, that was missing," Ferrance said. "Cash was missing from Christmas cards."
According to Ferrance, the family was robbed twice on Christmas Day, once in the early afternoon and then again at night. When Ferrance discovered footprints leading to the attic the next day, she called the police.
"When he came down from the attic, he was wearing my daughter's pants and my sweat shirt and sneakers," Ferrance told The Associated Press. "From what I gather, he was helping himself to my home, eating my food and stealing my clothes."
The Ferrance home is a duplex with a shared attic, and Carter had been living with a friend's family in the attached home, according to the Times-Tribune of Scranton, Pa. He was reported missing by that family Dec. 21, when police believe he took up residence in the Ferrances' attic.
When police searched the attic after Carter had been led out, they found a list of everything Carter had allegedly taken, Plains Township police officer Michael Smith told the AP. They also found every swiped item itemized on a piece of paper that Carter had labeled "Stanley's Christmas List."
"It was bizarre," Ferrance said today. "It's not something that you hear in a little town like this. To look at his face, it's creepy."
He Didn't Want to Go Back to Jail
In the attic, police also found a computer Carter had stolen from the Ferrances, which included e-mails he had written. One read, "I don't want to go back to jail ... I'd rather be wanted."
Police believe Carter came to Pennsylvania from Arkansas. It couldn't be immediately determined whether Carter had previously spent time in jail.
But now Carter is behind bars on burglary charges and awaits a hearing that is set for next week.
Though no one was injured in the bizarre incident, the sneaky guest left a lasting impression on the Ferrance family.
"We're definitely jumpy," Ferrance said. "Every noise that we do hear, we definitely jump up and investigate what's going on."