Decades before James Comey became director of the FBI, the teenager and his younger brother were held hostage in their home by a deranged rapist who targeted teenaged babysitters - and who has never been caught.
The "horrifying" incident, which Comey said haunted him for years, resulted in the hasty arrest of a local construction worker who had multiple alibis and was later let go by a grand jury, according to the Daily Mail.
Although Comey, now 56, went on to become the nation's top law enforcement official, he has never been able to catch the culprit who terrorized him and his younger brother Peter that night - the man who police identified as the serial "Ramsey rapist" who attacked young babysitters in a series of night-time home invasions.
The saga began in the spring of 1977, near the city of Ramsey, New Jersey. Comey was 16 years old at the time and a student at Northern Highlands Regional High School in nearby Allendale.
In March of that year, a 17-year-old girl was raped while babysitting in Upper Saddle River, a suburb of Ramsey. The culprit was described as a man with a gun wearing grey work clothes and a blue cap, according to news reports at the time.
Between July and October, at least three other female babysitters in the area - aged 15, 17 and 19 - reported that they were sexually assaulted by a man fitting a similar description.
But police had no promising leads until the night of Oct. 28.
That night, 16-year-old Comey and his younger brother Peter were home alone when a man in grey clothes and a dark cap broke into their house with a gun. The man pointed the gun at their heads, locked the boys in the bathroom and began searching the house.
Eventually the gunman went outside and confronted Comey's neighbors, a couple who were just returning home for the night.
Comey and his brother managed to crawl out of the bathroom window and dashed into the yard, but the gunman spotted them on the lawn from across the street. The boys ran back inside and called the police, and the assailant fled into the woods.
Years later, the Comey brothers still have a difficult time discussing what happened that night.
When the Dailymail.com reached Peter Comey, a Washington, D.C. lawyer, by phone, he declined to talk about the incident.
"I don't particularly want to relive it," he said.
Looking back on that night, Comey said he didn't think he would make it out alive. He told CBS News in 2014 that he believed he was "going to be killed by this guy" and called it a "horrific experience."
The assault was "frightening to anybody but especially to a younger person to be threatened with a gun and to believe you're going to be killed by this guy," said Comey.
Comey, who was fired as FBI director by President Donald Trump last month amid investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election, said he believed the attack has helped him empathize with victims of violent crimes.
"I think it most affects me in giving me a sense of what victims feel," said Comey. "I think it's made me a better prosecutor and investigator for being able to feel better what victims of crime experience."
The gunman was long gone by the time police arrived on the scene that night in October.
But the Comeys' description of the man - and the account from the neighbors - convinced police that the assailant was the 'Ramsey rapist' who was terrorizing babysitters in the area.
Police combed the woods near Comey's house, but the search turned up few clues. They may have also unintentionally destroyed footprint evidence in the process.
But two unexpected breaks in the case led the police to make an arrest.
First, the investigation caught the attention of Tom Brown, Jr., a local 'tracker' who claimed he was taught how to follow wood tracks by an Apache shaman. Brown claimed that footprints and other traces of disturbances in the woods near Comey's home - including hair strands and fragments of clothing - led to a house owned by the sibling of a man named Bruce Ader, Sr., a 39-year-old construction worker.
Police obtained a picture of Ader, and showed it to Comey, his brother, and their neighbors. They reportedly identified Ader as the culprit based on the photo.
Police used this as the basis to make an arrest in November 1977. Unfortunately, the case started to crumble almost immediately.
Ader turned out to have multiple alibis who said he was miles outside of the area at the time of the Oct. 28 attack. He was reportedly with friends at a bus depot around 9 p.m. in distant Bernardsville, 35 miles away, and talked to other friends on the phone after boarding the bus, according to the Daily Beast.
Only one of the Comey boys picked out Ader in a subsequent in-person lineup, according to a New York Times report at the time. It is unclear whether James Comey or his brother Peter identified Ader. None of the other alleged victims were able to positively identify Ader in the lineup.
With little evidence to go on, prosecutors failed to convince a grand jury, and Ader was released without charge.
Ader has since passed away. But his wife, Carol, told the Daily Beast last month that her husband's arrest was shocking to everyone who knew him. She said the neighborhood rallied behind him and there was widespread scepticism about the police department's decision.
"You don't know where to turn," said Carol. "It was awful."
"I think that taught my whole family a lesson: 'You never say somebody is guilty until they admit it,'" she added.
There was so much faith in Ader's innocence that his $12,000 bail was reportedly paid by a Newark police detective who offered up his own property to cover the tab.
Forty years later, police have yet to catch the real culprit - a fact that still appears to weigh heavy on Comey.
"He got away," said Comey during an interview with CBS News in 2014.
Although Comey escaped the attack without any physical injuries, he said the psychological impacts lingered with him for years.
"Even the notion no one was physically harmed, doesn't mean no one was harmed,"said Comey. "Because I thought about that guy every night for five years."