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Woman Back From Vacation Finds Stranger Making Herself at Home

October 23, 2004|From Associated Press

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — A woman came home from vacation to find a stranger living there, wearing the owner's clothes, changing utilities into her name and even ripping out carpet and repainting a room she didn't like, authorities said Friday.

Douglas County authorities say they can't explain why Beverly Valentine, 54, broke into an empty home and started acting as if it was her own.

During the 2 1/2 weeks the owner, Beverly Mitchell, was on vacation in Greece, Valentine allegedly redecorated the ranch home, ripping up carpet and taking down the owner's pictures and replacing them with hers.

Mitchell was a complete stranger to Valentine, said Chief Sheriff's Deputy Stan Copeland. He said he had no idea how Valentine knew Mitchell was gone.

"In 28 years, I've never seen something this strange," Copeland said.

Valentine was being held in Douglas County Jail on a $25,000 bond, Copeland said. If convicted, she could face one to 20 years in prison.

The case came to light when Mitchell, who lives alone, returned home Oct. 4 to find the lights on and a strange car parked in the driveway. Mitchell called police, who went in and found Valentine, who at first pretended she was renting the home.

Later, Copeland said, Valentine admitted she broke into the house with a shovel and was squatting there. She was charged with burglary.

Authorities found a gun and $23,000 worth of Mitchell's jewelry in Valentine's car.

Valentine had the electricity switched over to her name and moved in a washer and dryer and her dog.

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