Melissa Rodrigues is the mom of a 3-year-old boy, who until last week, had to deal with a problem that parents of small children run into all-too-often — nightmares. Her child had them repeatedly, which could be disturbing. But Melissa, the co-author of a children's book called My Favorite Hugs, figured that her son probably just needed a little more comforting.
But that wasn't enough.
Even when the little boy was awake, he was terrified by the same image. He described it as best he could — "a man with a light" outside his bedroom window.
Melissa and her husband continued to dismiss the boy's tales of "a man with a light" as just a typical childhood fantasy, albeit a scary one. Until one night last week — June 26, to be exact — when her son let out a scream that was absolutely bloodcurdling.
"At 5.30 in the morning he let out an absolutely gut-wrenching scream from his room," the mom said. "I knew something wasn't right."
This time, Melissa and her husband, who live with their son in Wakinae, New Zealand, a small coastal town about 35 miles outside of the country's capital city of Wellington, decided to check it out for themselves.
Perhaps intending to prove to their toddler that there was nothing to be scared of, they went outside and made an unsettling discovery — footprints in the backyard of their home. June, of course, is the middle of winter in New Zealand and their yard was coated with a layer of frost, making the prints that were clearly from a person easy to spot.
Another clue — their backyard gate was swinging wide open. And come to think of it, Melissa had noticed a couple of tools from their shed missing in recent days.
Now they knew — the little boy's nightmares were not dreams at all. They were real. A "man with a light" had really been creeping around outside the little boy's window.
Melissa and her husband couldn't afford the investment in a full-scale home security system, so they did the next best thing. Because of course, there's an app for that.
The app, called "Salient Eye" turns any smartphone into a motion-sensitive security camera, automatically emailing photos as soon as it detects unusual activity.
After bringing their little boy to his grandmother's for a sleepover, the couple pulled an all-nighter, waiting to see what, if anything, the app would turn up. Sure enough, at about 4:30 a.m. Melissa's email account lit up.
In each photo, an eerie image of, yes, a man with a light prowling their property. One of the photos ca be seen above.
They immediately called the cops. Using the images from the Melissa's email, the police tracked down the frightening intruder — who thankfully turned out to be just a local teenager committing petty burglaries, a kid well-known to the local officers, who recognized him immediately even from the grainy photos.
Now, Melissa Rodrigues says her son's nightmares have stopped, and there haven't been any more tools missing from the shed.
[Image: Handout, Melissa Rodrigues]