DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A week after Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray first reported on a squatter taking over the home of an active-duty Army officer, Channel 2 Action News is getting results.
Army Lt. Colonel Dahlia Daure is back in possession of her Dekalb County home, and the squatter is behind bars.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Normally homeowners are told they must take the squatter to court and go through a judicial eviction process, which can take months.
But after our Channel 2 Action News story aired last week, the Dekalb County Sheriff’s office contacted Daure and said they will circumvent that process with something called an intruder affidavit.
- Mom arrested after infant found in plastic bag had ‘history of concealed pregnancies,’ deputies say
- Trail closed after woman walking her dogs killed when she plunges off 15-foot cliff
- Squatter evicted from home of active duty Army officer, arrested after Channel 2 investigation
“If it wasn’t for Channel 2, Justin Gray, I wouldn’t be here today, and I’m truly grateful,” Daure said.
A Channel 2 Action News photographer was there Thursday with a camera rolling as Dekalb Sheriff’s deputies and Dekalb Marshalls evicted Vincent Simon from the Ellenwood home.
The alleged squatter had only been in the home since the beginning of May, but truckloads of things were pulled out of the home, including a gun safe and 2 dogs.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
“Just as I finished renovating, you leisurely moved in like it’s yours. No, I was not going to let it go,” Daure said.
It was one week ago that Dahlia Daure first reached out to Channel 2 Action News.
She had put her home up for sale while away on Army active duty in Chicago, and Simon moved in.
The convicted criminal installed cameras, put up ‘Beware of Dog’ signs, and covered the windows with cardboard.
Simon claimed he had a lease and that he’d paid $19,000 upfront for six months.
“The police call the number that’s on the lease. It doesn’t exist,” Daure said.
Daure went to the police and was told it was a civil matter.
She served Simon with eviction papers.
“I was beside myself and I felt violated. Had I not been serving my country, I would have been in my home,” Daure told Gray last week.
But this week, Daure watched Simon walk out of the house in handcuffs.
“It feels good when you can return the home back to the homeowner,” said Major Manuel Sanchez from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s office.
By serving the intruder affidavit, Sheriff’s deputies and Marshalls were able to evict Simon without a lengthy court process.
Police found a gun and suspected ecstasy in the home.
As a convicted felon, Simon legally can’t own a firearm.
“He attempted to show us the lease. That’s not what the law allows,” Sanchez said.
Normally, showing a bogus lease or even just claiming to have a lease is enough to get a squatter case kicked to a months-long court battle.
“You want to have protections for tenants, but you don’t want protection for squatters,” said attorney John Ernst.
Ernst has been fighting a similar squatter case for a client since February and says these cases regularly drag on for months with delays both in the courts and with the marshals
His client still isn’t back in his home.
“It has been the months since they moved in, and we’ll probably have another month, month and a half before they are out,” Ernst said.
But with the Sheriff’s office bypassing that eviction process, Daure now has her house back.
“I came here with a mission in mind to get him out of my house and put him in jail where he belongs,” Daure said.
Ernst is also the Mayor of Brookhaven and says he has been looking at this on the public policy side as well to see how to make the eviction process more efficient.
©2022 Cox Media Group