WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - There really was something lurking in the little girl's closet.

A 10-year-old woke up to the sight of a strange man and his two dogs in her bedroom last month. She ran to tell her sleeping parents, but they told her to go back to bed. "The parents evidently thought she was having a dream or a nightmare," said Gerald Schramek, chief criminal investigator for the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

The parents still didn't believe the girl half an hour later, when she said the man and his cocker spaniels left the family's house in Philipstown, about 80 kilometres north of New York City.

Later the parents discovered muddy dog tracks throughout the house, and that cash, keys and a cellphone were missing.

Based on the girl's description, investigators suspected Craig Finnegan, 38, a homeless man who had lived in the nearby woods for three years and was seen with two dogs the previous night, Schramek said.

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