A suburban stay-at-home mom went on a two-day crime spree, swiping packages from porches with her kids because she was "bored" and wanted some excitement in her life.
Melissa Bergman, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, lived in a lavish $475,000 home in Mason, Ohio with her husband and two kids. From the outside, it looked like she has a great life.
"I feel like I had everything that any woman would ever want," Bergman, 30, told WLWT 5 in Cincinnati.
However, her inner life was full of turmoil.
"I felt like my life was going nowhere," she said. "I felt like I had nothing to look forward to in life."
In the summer of 2017, Bergman said she attempted suicide. When she got out of the hospital, she found a package on her doorstep that belonged to her neighbor. On July 27, 2017, she took it to him, but he had three other uncollected packages on the porch.
"I'm like, 'Oh, he doesn't want these,' so I took one, and I put it in my car," Bergman said. "That's when the urge started getting worse and worse and worse, and I couldn't control it."
Bergman said she didn't "need" any of the things she took, so she justified it by telling herself she'd donate the stolen merchandise. The next day, she jumped in her minivan and went at it again, pulling into driveways, she said, and grabbing boxes without regard for consequences.
"I had my children, and that's when we went all day and just took boxes," Bergman told WLWT. "I pulled right into the driveway, walked right up to the door, didn't look for security cameras and just grabbed a box when I saw it."
In all, she hit 12 homes in two days.
She was seen on a surveillance camera taking a package Deerfield Township, according to WXIX-TV in Cincinnati, and when a police officer pulled her over, he found her with the packages.
"I'm looking back, and I'm like, 'What was I thinking?'" Bergman said. "At this time, my head wasn't in the right place. I wasn't thinking, and I made the wrong decision."
She thinks her PTSD from her time in Afghanistan may have played a role, because stealing the packages gave her an excitement she hadn't felt in a long time. She said a psychologist talked to her about it.
"He's like, 'Melissa, you were doing so much at one time and then it just stopped. So you doing this gave you that excitement that you once had back in Afghanistan.' That's what I'm thinking is the correlation. You got excitement out of this just like you did in Afghanistan, but it was a different type of excitement," Bergman said.
She pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer, but on June 13 she was found guilty of 12 counts of misdemeanor theft. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and posted a lengthy apology to the town on Facebook.
She wanted to tell her story, she said, to dissuade others from going down a similar path.
"There's no words that I can ever say to describe how sorry I am for what I had done," she said. "It hurt tremendously, and I just want to go and give them a hug and say, 'So sorry for hurting you.'"
She told WXIX-TV the public apology is also her attempt to turn her life around because she almost lost everything, including her marriage and custody of her children. She's moved out of Mason since her conviction, she said.
Bergan was also arrested in November of 2017 on charges of theft and misuse of credit cards, when she allegedly stole a man's card at a hotel. She was not convicted, according to WLWT, but was instead ordered to complete a veterans intervention program.
[Photo: Facebook, Warren County Jail]