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Squatters invaded house, put it up for sale after owners died

5 months 3 days 21 hours ago Thursday, April 20 2023 Apr 20, 2023 April 20, 2023 4:18 PM April 20, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Imagine having a house taken over by squatters. It happened to one Baton Rouge couple who now says the property they inherited is a disaster.

Richard Craven and his wife Kristen have found themselves in a bizarre situation.

"I don't know what they were thinking," said Richard Craven.

The white brick home on Goodwood Boulevard near Sharp Road belonged to his in-laws who both passed away. It was empty for only a couple of months and the plan was to fix it up and put the house on the market. Before he could, squatters moved in.

"We were checking on it and it was ransacked. Everything was tossed," Craven said.

One day, the couple drove by and found a big dumpster in the driveway. Someone appeared to be fixing up the place and was redecorating. It scared Craven, who started watching odd things happening.

"We didn't confront him, we were just watching and then I noticed all the traffic," he said.

People were coming and going from the property at all hours. When Craven called the police, responding officers found that the situation was a civil matter because both parties provided documentation that proved they were the owner. The squatters had their paperwork claiming they had paid the property taxes.

There was a time when Craven didn't think he'd ever see the inside of the home again when the squatters put the house up for sale. It was listed for $225,000 to be purchased "as is" and described as a "magnificent home" with plenty of space for a large family and a pool to "beat the heat." The property was on the market for a day before Craven noticed and had it taken down.

Craven's nightmare ended last weekend when police arrested Joseph Guerin and Jennifer Chapman for unauthorized entry. Guerin was arrested on similar charges last year and was out on a $5,000 bond.

Once Craven had a look inside the home, it was evident several people were living there. They brought in some of their furniture, ripped up the carpet, and installed tile flooring and countertops. The work is not quality and Craven says it all has to be redone.

Most of the furniture that remained in the home from Craven's in-laws was solid wood with an original finish. The squatters painted nearly every piece a matte black. They took the same paint to the molding, the stair banisters, and the windows, and even painted over some of the glass to black out a room. Other areas had been painted a matte white, including the kitchen. Appliances were painted white and, in other areas, painting had begun but was not finished. In one of the upstairs rooms, graffiti covers the walls.

One of the upstairs bathrooms was destroyed, and there are holes in the walls and missing parts of the ceiling. Craven found drug paraphernalia and empty liquor bottles left behind.

"Drug using, drug dealing, I don't know if he was renting rooms out to females," Craven said.

Guerin had somehow switched over the water bill to his name and had found a way to get electricity. The locks had also been changed.

"The house did need a little work but now it needs everything," Craven said.

Guerin is in jail being held on a $5,000 bond.

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