Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Squatter Faces Criminal Mischief Charge After Snatching Possession Of Temporarily Unoccupied Home While Owner Away On Business Trip

In Grapevine, Texas, the Star Telegram reports:

  • A 64-year-old man has been arrested in the first criminal case involving a squatter in Northeast Tarrant County. Billie V. Henderson has been formally charged with criminal mischief for trying to take possession of a home [...] in Grapevine, according to the Tarrant County district attorney's office.

  • "He went over there and had a locksmith come out and meet him there and change the locks," Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling said. A neighbor who knew the homeowner alerted the police after Henderson had the locks changed, Eberling said. The owner was on a business trip, police said.

  • Henderson could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He was convicted of larceny after an arrest in August 1970, public records show. He has lived in several cities in the last five years, including Irving, Waxahachie, Fort Worth and Haltom City, records show.

  • The supposed squatter told Grapevine police that he had identified the home by surfing the Tarrant Appraisal District's website, police said. "In his mind, he determined that if they are owned by a financial institution, they are under foreclosure, which this house was not," Eberling said.

  • Henderson apparently did the same thing to a home in Coppell, and Grapevine police are working closely with Coppell authorities on the case, Eberling said. An investigation is pending, he said.

  • Since November, District Attorney Joe Shannon has formally charged eight people with felony burglary in connection with what he has called fraudulent affidavits filed with the Tarrant County clerk's office by squatters.

  • The affidavits of adverse possession stated that the individuals had claimed abandoned property. If an owner doesn't contest the claim for a period of years and the squatter provides upkeep and pays taxes, the squatter may eventually gain legal title.

  • Henderson did not file a fraudulent affidavit, Eberling said. Police thought the criminal mischief charge was more appropriate in the case, he said. "His MO was just to look at the [appraisal district's] website and find homes," Eberling said.

Source: Grapevine accuses 64-year-old squatter of criminal mischief.

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