Worried an intruder might still be inside, she ran to her children. That's when she noticed a man with a backpack just outside her window.
She confronted him outside.
"I kind of blacked out. I went after him and grabbed what was mine. And things were going through my head about my children and my house and 'How can you come in my house?' Whitfield said.
The 39-year-old medical worker flung a cell phone at the young suspect, opening a cut under his eye.
The alleged burglar was 22-year-old Cody Cox. As the victim-turned-hero gave him a moral tongue lashing, more neighbors showed up.
"I said please don't let him go. He's got my stuff. They said don't worry he's not going anywhere," said Whitfield.
"I got here a minute after the police had him in handcuffs. He's very lucky that I didn't have the opportunity to get ahold of him," said Cindy's husband Todd Whitfield.
Police found more than 50 pieces of jewelry valued at $25,000 stuffed into the backpack Cox was carrying.
Cindy Whitfield's deceased mother's and grandparents wedding rings were among them.
Initially Cox was released on $5,000 bail. However, Action News was there when he was re-arrested Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in other thefts.
Cox's grandmother spoke to Action News, saying "If the cops would do something about the drugs, if the government would do something about it, he wouldn't be in this position."
Cox's family condemns his alleged actions, but cites a prescription drug addiction dating back to an injury that left him with two broken hips when he was 11 years old are at the root of his troubles. His grandmother said the family has struggled to help Cox.