Family faces bizarre problem of 'serial door knocker'

GRAHAM, Wash. -- What seemed at first to be a simple problem soon spiraled into a complex, frightening situation for a local family.

Over and over, a stranger walked to the Gunderson family's home and knocked on the door. They didn't want her there, but she kept coming back.

When the Gundersons bought their first home, they expected peace, quiet and security.

But several times a day, a resident from a nearby adult assisted living facility knocks on their door incessantly.

The problem started on Christmas Eve. At the time, the Gundersons ran across the street to the Mashburn House and let them know their resident was wandering.

"Who knows what could happen to her? I'm kind of glad she's just coming to my house, so you know where she's going. Because if she changed her pattern, nobody would know where that woman is," said Kimberly Gunderson.

But as the visits multiplied, the family's patience quickly wore out. The woman didn't seem to need help, and her behavior spooked the family.

"You just took away all my rights of protecting my kids, raising my kids, having a happy day, going to work, leaving," Kimberly said.

Calls to the police did no good, and Kimberly said no one from the Mashburn House tried to make it stop.

"It was bad. She rang my doorbell for 27 minutes straight one time," Kimberly said.

Kimberly said advice ranged from "getting physical" with the woman to spraying her in the face with water.

"The facility is telling me to abuse her," Kimberly said. "That's four times they have told me to, in some way, physically assault her."

The owner of the Mashburn House, Patricia McKasson, denied recommending touching the woman, but she did say Kimberly should have "acted like (she was) pushing her."

The state blames McKasson for the problem. A Department of Social and Health Services investigation laid out "a history of significant, repeated or uncorrected violations" demonstrating the home's "inability or unwillingness to provide care."

The department ordered McKasson to hire another employee so someone could watch the resident at all times. Despite that order, the woman was back at the Gunderson's house within day, and even twice in one night.

Notes from the care provider show that staff had no idea the woman was missing. McKasson said the woman did not leave the facility on the night in question, but security footage shows the woman leaving while the extra staff member assigned to her was reclining in a chair, presumably sleeping.

The state revoked McKasson's license, but she's fighting the decision and still has residents during the appeal process.

"What is troubling and of concern is that a provider with actually quite a good history allowed things to go so appallingly bad for this particular individual," said Lori Melchciori of DSHS.

That leaves Gunderson family fearing what could happen next.

"Take care of your people. If your people mean everything to you, and that's your job, you are being paid to take care of them. Take care of your people," Kimberly said.

The woman has not been to the Gunderson's home lately, but the family said the magic of their new home has been ruined by an unwanted -- but very determined -- visitor.

McKasson said the woman has no family in the area. She said she's trying to help her find a new home where she'll receive the supervision she needs.