An Ohio family is embroiled in a court fight with a man who moved into their home while they were out of town visiting a dying relative.
WLWT News 5 reports the Springdale squatter – Robert Carr – produced a document he'd filed with the local county court when confronted by the displaced family. Carr, who changed the locks on the home and emptied the property of the family’s belongings, says the document -- a so-called “quiet title”-- lays a legitimate claim to the property because the family living there for 21 years had abandoned the home.
"When you abandon a property, bam, walk away from it, 'I ain't never coming back. I don't want nothing to do with it,' right? Somebody can come in, 'Oh, mine,'" Carr told a WLWT reporter. "I have a team of people who go out and I say make sure the house is empty. If it's empty, change the locks.”
The family did not wish to be identified by the TV station, but Alison Warner, an attorney acting on their behalf, reportedly said in reference to Carr, “What he's looking for is full title and ownership of the home. He's in their home. They don't know when he's there. He can be there now.”
“This is stress that has fallen on their shoulders out of nowhere. . . "
- Attorney Alison Warner
It was unclear how long the family had been away from the home, although a “quiet title” action is reportedly used, in most instances, to clear up the rightful ownership of disputed properties.
It seems to be a pattern for Carr.
A WLWT investigation revealed he filed similar paperwork with 11 other homes in Springdale, Forest Park, Fairfield, and Hamilton. The station reports seven had been filed on the same day.
Amazingly, Carr has only been charged in one of those cases -- a breaking-and-entering citation. And in that instance, the TV station writes Carr is challenging the indictment handed up by a grand jury against him, returning it to authorities with the words, “rejected,” and “offer not accepted,” scrawled across the front of it.
The FBI reportedly says it has seen this sort of con before.
While not commenting on the Springdale case, Special Agent in Charge Kevin Cornelius told WLWT of people like Carr, “They'll come together as groups to receive training, how to conduct some of these schemes from a financial standpoint, to understand what they consider the common law and how they can use that common law for their sovereign purposes. I'm not familiar (with) any cases where it's held up in court. I think that it holds up the process of the court's decision."
As for the Springdale family, they say they are hurt beyond words.
“I feel violated,” the unidentified homeowner told WLWT. “(I'm) very scared, you know, because I never know if somebody's going to be here…It’s been really hard.”
Reportedly added Alison Warner, “This is stress that has fallen on their shoulders out of nowhere, after the death of a loved one and now they're responsible to answer to this.”