By CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – When your home isn’t safe, where else is there to go?
Several residents of one apartment complex are struggling with that question after recent actions by their landlord.
A 40-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter, as well as another woman, are fearful of their landlord at an apartment complex in the 500 block of Elm Street after he allegedly directed several questionable comments and threatening text messages at the women, her child and the child’s 11-year-old friend. The residents say the comments and texts all culminated in the alleged murder of four pet turtles and the disappearance of a pet cat earlier this month.
Officers were called to the apartment complex about 11:15 a.m. Monday after the 40-year-old woman and her daughter returned home to discover four of their five 1-year-old pet turtles had been killed. The woman also said her daughter’s cat, a smokey gray Himalayan named Precious, had been missing since July 9. Several of the pets were gifts from the daughter’s father, who died last year of complications from cancer.
The woman filed a report against her landlord on July 12 because he was leaving her threatening voice and text messages. Officers assisted her in entering her apartment that day because she did not feel safe entering on her own.
The woman and officers discovered the water in her apartment’s atrium had been tampered with so that all the fish died and the turtles had climbed up onto the rocks to avoid some type of solution that had been poured in the water.
The chemicals’ odor was so strong that one officer would not enter the apartment because it affected his sinuses. That night, the woman sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with a restricted airway due to inflammation from the airborne chemicals.
The same day, she said the landlord sent her a text message that read, “Paybacks are a bitch.”
The woman placed the five turtles in a large cooler in her bathtub with fresh food and water. She took her daughter and left the apartment because they did not feel safe there and wanted to make new living arrangements elsewhere.
Upon returning to the apartment July 16 to move out some items, all was fine and the turtles were safe. She returned Monday to finish moving out and her daughter discovered four of the five turtles were dead and the cooler had intentionally been tipped over. Officers did not believe the turtles had the strength to move or tip over the cooler themselves.
The daughter also discovered a suspicious yellow-stained towel on her bedroom floor that did not belong to the family. The towel and a sample of the atrium water were collected and tagged as evidence.
The woman had been suspicious that the landlord had been entering the apartment without her permission. She had been placing a towel behind the door when she leaves and repeatedly has observed it pushed over against the far wall upon her return, indicating the door had been swung wide open by someone while she was away.
She believes her landlord is upset with her because she has turned down his repeated advances for a relationship since they went on a single date in February, in which her daughter accompanied them.
Showing officers a series of text messages sent by the landlord on different dates, several were described by officers as “disturbing, sexually suggestive, demeaning and express(ing) a feeling of control,” while also mentioning how the woman is refusing the landlord as a partner. Most contained foul, abusive language and threats. The woman said she never responds to any of the messages or calls.
Officers told the woman to have her phone service provider print out the text messages from the landlord and contact the Detective Bureau afterward. She also was advised and urged to obtain a personal protection order.
While investigating complaints against the landlord, the woman and her 39-year-old neighbor described several other incidents where the landlord would make comments aloud in the hallway about various residents’ breast sizes.
When the 12-year-old daughter’s 11-year-old friend was nearby in a bikini top during the apartment complex’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration, the landlord also allegedly said, “She has a nice rack on her. She will get raped by the time she is 14,” in front of several tenants.
The report is consistent with an unrelated report from 2008, when the landlord made sexually suggestive comments in front of children.
(Contact Chris Jackett at [email protected])