When California Republican Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon's home was broken into last month, his wife noted in a letter that the thief's "car is registered to a person in Chicago!"
The McKeons, she insisted, would not be intimidated. "Just know this, no matter what happens to us, Buck and I won't back down," she said.
The already bizarre story has only gotten stranger. The man suspected of robbing McKeon may now be in Chicago and may have slipped from police custody by faking a heart attack and escaping from a local hospital.
The man identified by Los Angeles County sheriffs as Tadeusz Pach of Chicago purportedly broke into McKeon's Santa Clarita, Calif., home March 4 -- and possibly homes across the Midwest -- before leading police on a weeks-long chase from California to Chicago, narrowly evading capture several times.
Using credit card receipts from hotel stays and car rentals, authorities tracked Pach to an Alamo Rental car facility in Chicago.
What happened next is a mystery.
According to L.A. County sheriffs, officials at the rental facility called the police when Pach's car was turned in, and he was detained.
"Our detective contacted Alamo Rental and told them to contact local police when the car was returned," spokesman Darren Harris told the Huffington Post. "My understanding is that did occur and local police responded."
But Chicago Police spokesman Daniel O'Brien said they have no record of any such event.
"We have no report of a man by that name or any name being arrested and escaping the hospital by faking a heart attack," O'Brien said.
Officials in L.A. County said they believe Pach, as well as an unidentified woman, remain at large in Chicago. Chicago Police, meanwhile, said they are not investigating.
Pach and the unidentified woman are suspected of robbing McKeon's home on March 4, as well as another home only three miles away, and stealing jewelry and personal effects from the McKeon's master bedroom.
In a March 25 fundraising letter to her husband's supporters, Mrs. McKeon wrote that their home had recently been broken into and that the suspects were from Chicago.
"You won't believe this," McKeon wrote, "the car is registered to a person in Chicago! Just know this, no matter what happens to us, Buck and I won't back down."
The letter also contained strong statements against the Employee Free Choice Act, which has been championed by President Obama, Chicago's most prominent political son. The McKeon letter blasted the legislation as "right out of Stalin's playbook" and part of Obama's "socialist agenda," according to excerpts quoted in the Antelope Valley (CA) Press.
McKeon campaign manager Bob Hauter said the comment was not meant to suggest a link between the robbery and McKeon's opposition to President Barack Obama.
"Look," Hauter told the Huffington Post, "it was a P.S. at the end of the letter specifically saying, 'On top of all these things going on in our lives, if you can believe this, our home was broken into.' It was a tongue-in-cheek reference that the guy was from Chicago."
Though a Democratic staffer joked that the line would be remembered in Chicago should the city land the 2016 Olympics.
"Guess who's not getting tickets to the Olympics," the staffer said.
Sgt. Harris of L.A. County said the department believes the robbery was a random case and not politically motivated. Harris described the suspects as between 45 and 52 years old and of Polish descent.
Meghan Maguire, a spokeswoman for Alamo Rental Cars, confirmed that the car's license plate had been tagged and that the company was cooperating with the authorities but could not confirm any of the details regarding what happened when the car was returned.
Contributing reporting from Ryan Grim