A former stay-at-home mom from Mason, Ohio, continues to speak out after making national headlines for a two-day crime spree last year in which she stole packages off the porches of 12 area houses.
First was Melissa Bergman’s apology on Facebook last month, about two weeks after she was reportedly found guilty of the 12 misdemeanor theft charges and ordered to serve 30 days in jail.
In that lengthy June 27 social media post, and in subsequent news interviews, the 30-year-old Bergman has alternately tried to explain actions and her background.
But the bottom line, she said, is that she now knows what she did was wrong and is sorry — even if, at the time of the thefts in July 2017, she isn’t sure what was going through her mind.
“I’m looking back, and I’m like, ‘What was I thinking?’ ” she told local TV station WLWT in an interview published on June 28. “At this time, my head wasn’t in the right place. I wasn’t thinking and I made the wrong decision.”
At her theft trial Bergman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, and two psychologists testified.
However, the court found her mental illness “did not prevent her from knowing the wrongfulness of her actions.”
Her illness was not further specified in the Enquirer report. (PEOPLE’s efforts to reach her and her attorney as well as prosecutors were not immediately successful.)
In her Facebook apology last month, Bergman wrote that she committed the thefts not long after a suicide attempt and psychiatric stay but was not on drugs at the time.
“I given multiple medications but in no way am I saying this is the cause to why I did what I did,” she wrote. “To be honest, I don’t know why I did this terrible thing. I wasn’t needing the items or needing money.”
Bergman apologized for her behavior and asked for forgiveness.
While she told local station WXIX, also on June 28, that she helped police match some of the stolen packages to their original owners, multiple people said they never got their property back.
Bergman said that, as she gathered more and more packages — sometimes taking them while her kids were in the minivan with her — she thought that she would eventually donate the goods to those in need.
At one point, she said, she took a sleep apnea machine and was so worried that its intended owner would suffer and die without it that she threw it away.
“I feel and felt terrible afterwards and seeing the post a month after the incident, with my photo and what I did, made me feel like the worst person in the world and again I wanted out of this life,” Bergman wrote on Facebook in June. “I not only made you all scared, but I lost your trust. I hurt your families and those are things I can never make better.”
“I hope one day I can be forgiven for my past mistakes and completely understand the hatred and hurt in everyone’s heart,” she wrote. “I was selfish and only cared about myself. Over this past year I have changed to be a better person all around. I am extremely sorry for all the hurt, anger, and fear I have caused in everyone.”
A military veteran who has served in Afghanistan, according to WLWT, Bergman has suggested in interviews that post-traumatic stress disorder or her military service may have played a role in her behavior.
“[One psychologist said], 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,’ ” she told WLWT last month. “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.”
She has also said the thefts brought “a thrill” that she had been lacking.
“I feel like I had everything that any woman would ever want,” she told WLWT.
“I just felt like my life wasn’t going anywhere,” she told the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, in an interview on Wednesday.
In that same article, Bergman said she had suffered sexual assault in her past and, at the time of the thefts, was dealing with anxiety and depression among other mental health issues.
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Months after her arrest in 2017 in the porch thefts, Bergman was charged in a separate case with misuse of a credit card and other counts after allegedly stealing the credit card of a man she met at a local hotel in late October, according to WLWT.
She was ultimately ordered to complete an intervention program for veterans, the station reports.
Since her arrest in the porch-theft case, Bergman’s husband has moved to divorce her and she has lost custody of her two children, according to WLWT. She left Mason.
“Next for me is just focusing on myself and trying to get better,” she told WXIX.
“I have better self-esteem now, even though people still probably despise me. … I have learned to forgive myself for what I did and God has forgiven me,” she said, “and I’m only hoping that other people do.”