75-Year-Old Homeowner Suffers Heart Attack After Discovering Squatters Had Taken Over His House

This article discusses how a 75-year-old Arkansas homeowner suffered a stress-induced heart attack after returning from medical treatment to find squatters had illegally occupied his house for over a month.
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Gary Brankel, a 75-year-old home­own­er from Maysville, Arkansas, suf­fered a stress-induced heart attack when he returned from a med­ical treat­ment facil­i­ty to find squat­ters had occu­pied his home.

Kel­ly DeShields, 54, and Matthew Vil­la­gran, 46, had been ille­gal­ly liv­ing in Brankel’s house for over a month. DeShields had claimed own­er­ship by pay­ing prop­er­ty tax­es and fol­low­ing instruc­tions she found on Google about how to take over an unoc­cu­pied home.

When con­front­ed by author­i­ties, DeShields admit­ted no one at the rev­enue office actu­al­ly told her she could live there. She and Vil­la­gran were also accused of burn­ing Brankel’s per­son­al doc­u­ments and belong­ings after false­ly claim­ing the property.

Brankel was hos­pi­tal­ized again due to the stress and shock of dis­cov­er­ing strangers liv­ing in his home with­out per­mis­sion. The ordeal sad­ly caused him to have a heart attack.

DeShields and Vil­la­gran were arrest­ed and charged with bur­glary. They are being held at the local deten­tion cen­ter await­ing their court date in July.

This unfor­tu­nate case shows the real harm squat­ters can cause home­own­ers, even lead­ing to seri­ous health issues from the stress and vio­la­tion of one’s pri­vate prop­er­ty. It serves as an impor­tant reminder of the need to prop­er­ly secure unoc­cu­pied homes.

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