ORU security responds to off-campus call for ‘help’

Students Madeleine Matsson, left, and Madeleine Royael credit ORU Security with rescuing them during an attempted break-in at the house they share off-campus.

Elizabeth McCullough, Staff Writer

Instead of attending classes on the first day of their sophomore year at Oral Roberts University, roommates Madeleine Matsson and Madeleine Royael quarantined themselves off-campus with Covid-19.


Matsson left the house only to pick up curbside groceries.


“I get home and see this creepy guy with a hat and sunglasses leaning up against my neighbor’s tree, kind of smirking at me as I’m driving to my driveway,” said Matsson.


An hour later, the students were studying in the dining room and Royael was on the phone with her father.


They looked through the window toward the front yard and saw three men dressed in thick flannels despite the August heat in 2021. The men were looking in the windows of the students’ cars and trying to open the car doors.


Matsson and Royael scrambled to find their keys, hoping to set off the car alarms and scare the lurkers away. But before they could find the keys, they heard a knock on the door.


When Matsson and Royael did not answer, the men peeked through the windows to see both students in the living room.


“We felt a rush of adrenaline,” said Royael. “We would have hidden, but we knew we shouldn’t.”


The students had recently heard Lori Fullbright, a crime reporter and news anchor for Tulsa’s KOTV, give a safety talk at ORU.


Following Fullbright’s instructions, Matsson and Royael yelled at the men instead of hiding. But the men didn’t leave.


A sunroom at the back of the house had floor-to-ceiling windows, where the two students spent most of their time in quarantine. They often left the sunroom door unlocked, but earlier that day Matsson had suddenly felt the need to lock it.


She was grateful she did. One of the men circled to the back of the house and tried to open the sunroom door.


Royael dialed 911, but the operator put them on hold. Matsson grabbed two kitchen knives, ready to defend herself and her friend.


“We are on the phone with the police!” They screamed. “We have a gun!”


The door’s lock held fast, but the man kept trying to pry it open.


Royael’s father, who was on the phone with her previously, called ORU Security.


“Once Madeleine’s dad called ORU Security, they were there in like a minute,” said Matsson.


ORU Security routinely patrols campus, but officers are prepared to help student even off-campus, officials said.


“We consider our students like family,” said William Hunt, director of the university’s Department of Public Safety and Security. “We don’t respond in the capacity of a police officer, but as a concerned parent or citizen that’s there to help someone in need.”


As soon as an ORU security officer arrived, the men fled. The security officer stayed with the students until police arrived.


Police later found a ladder leaning against the home’s roof, a broken fence and a crowbar taken from a nearby shed. The men escaped, but Matsson and Royael were unharmed.