4 squatters arrested in dead woman's house

4 squatters arrested in dead woman's house

SPOKANE, Wash. - Sara Digby's family and friends remember her as smart, caring and fun.

"Her sense of humor and her laugh up until the last couple days of her life [in hospice]... She was always making jokes and playing with the instruments they had and stuff like that," said Katelyn Digby, her daughter.

She lived in the 2000 block of North Howard for about ten years. When she she passed away in September, neighbors took pains to help clean up the home and secure Digby's belongings.

She had a great group of friends that were coming over to her house and packing up her items and preparing to close up the house on her behalf," said Spokane Police officer Traci Ponto.

But someone else beat them to it.

When they arrived home after Digby's memorial service on October 8, they found themselves locked out of the house by the six people now living inside.

"The locks had been changed, and they found the back door open," Ponto said.

The friends called police, and the squatters fled. But only for a week.

Four people were arrested at the home yesterday. Two of them have been caught for this same behavior before in the Garland district.

"I know them and I know what they've done and this is unacceptable," Ponto said.

The squatters went to great lengths to make the house seem like their own. They brought in their own refrigerator, replaced the back door, painted some of the walls, and even tried to transfer the bills to their names,

"They kind of developed this sense of 'if I make it look like I've lived here for a year, then I have gained occupancy and you can't kick me out,'" Ponto said.

They even put up Halloween decorations in the yard.

"It is just sickening to me, the level this group went to," Ponto said.

Ponto also said though this case is unusual - most cases of squatting arise from foreclosed homes or long vacant properties - if you have property that, for whatever reason, will be vacant for an extended amount of time, contact your neighborhood resource officers, who may be able to help.