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Schipper contractor: “He said he wanted a safe room, not a kidnapping room”

GENESEO, Illinois- Tracy Johnson says she saw police squads pull into the driveway of her neighbor's rental home in the wee hours of the morning of February 9th, never thinking in a million years there was a couple being held hostage in a safe room tucked inside the basement.

"They (the police) were there at 3:30 in the morning, and they didn't pull the hostages out until 5. So, I think that has something to do with the safe room, they couldn't find them, " said Johnson.

She has lived next to the home owned by Chad Schipper for about four years. It has been vacant for about two years, but she says, Schipper would come and go.

"No one was living there, but there was traffic at night," she said, adding he would pull the car into the attached garage and shut the door, so there was little contact with him.

"Last summer, though,  I had a conversation with Chad about cutting down walnut trees that we share on the property line, and he said he didn't want me to do that because he needed privacy," she said. "Now you wonder what else has been going on."

The general contractor who built the safe house says Schipper said he wanted a soundproof, secluded place in case of disaster.The room was made of contract blocks and had a concrete ceiling.

"He says he wanted it for his family and to put his guns down there," said the contractor.

The only way in or out, was the metal door accessed on the floor in an upstairs closet.

"The only thing kinda of weird was the safe door for the bunker, " the contractor said, adding Schipper initially wanted a fire door but the cost was too much.

The contractor says Schipper always paid incrementally in cash, but says he is still owed $7,000 for the custom job and placed a lien on the rental home last month.

The contractor says it was his first safe room and he'd been pretty proud of the workmanship, until he heard that Schipper had been arrested and the kidnapped couple found inside.

"I wanted to go there and destroy the room. He said he wanted a safe room, not a kidnapping room."