MACOMB TOWNSHIP (WXYZ) — "I have never lived a day without a bird," said 30-year-old Lauryn Siler about her love of feathered animals. "My love for birds is much deeper than them just being pets. They are my children."
But now one of Siler's birds, an eclectus parrot valued at $2,500, is at the center of a criminal investigation after a 63-year-old man allegedly stole the bird from the Macomb Township home where Siler lives with her fiancé, their birds, and their dog.
"I have no doubt in my mind, that she's terrified and she's traumatized," Siler said.
Siler told 7 Action News that she and her fiancé met the suspect earlier this year because he also has birds and they've been to each other's homes to see the birds.
But Monday afternoon, Siler said the man came over unannounced when her fiancé wasn't home.
Siler said the man began asking if she would give him or sell him some of her birds. She said she declined and called her fiancé when she became uncomfortable.
Siler's fiancé, Chris, said he got on the phone and told the man to leave their home.
Moments later is when Siler said the man stood up and approached one of their birds, a 10-year-old eclectus parrot named Jovie, who was just outside her nesting box but ran back inside to her eggs when the man approached.
Siler said the man grabbed the box and she immediately called 911 but that it didn't deter him from taking Jovie in her nesting box to his car that had been left running outside.
Siler said she's legally blind and her eyes didn't properly dilate when she went outside to stop the man and that he put the box in his vehicle and left.
Detectives with the Macomb County Sheriff did arrest the man. And while investigators did present a warrant request to prosecutors for felony larceny and home invasion, prosecutors made the decision to only charge the man with misdemeanor larceny, according to a sergeant with the sheriff's office.
The sergeant said they have not recovered the parrot and the suspect claims the bird belongs to him.
The suspect was arraigned on the misdemeanor larceny charge and released from jail on a $5,000 personal bond.
Action News was able to talk to him over the phone Thursday evening. He said he purchased the bird out of state and that he'd be able to prove that at a later date. He would not say how much he paid for the parrot.
The St. Clair County man said he only let the couple care for the parrot because she was producing too many eggs and losing too much calcium because of it. He said the hope was that the female parrot would breed with a male parrot belonging to the couple to help slow the calcium loss.
The suspect said deputies never asked him to turn the parrot over to them.
The man claims Siler welcomed him inside the home and that he only went to there because her fiancé wasn't returning his phone calls about updates on the parrot.
The suspect said he wasn't planning on taking the parrot back home with him but did so after Siler's fiancé became upset with him over the phone.
The couple retained civil attorney Joshua B. Williams to pursue any other court action that might result in Jovie being returned.
"Hopefully, we're able to obtain this bird and this person hasn't gotten rid of it or sold it or concealed it in some way that it can't be recovered," said Williams.
"I have no doubt in my mind that she's terrified," Siler added. "Birds are super intelligent.
"She knows she's not in her home. She knows she's not with her family. And I can't even fathom the emotional trauma that she's going through right now."