SEATTLE — As one Beacon Hill woman sought safety at her parents’ less-hilly neighborhood during the snow last week, she says a squatter was busy destroying her own home.
When the snow hit last week, Natalie* stayed at her parents’ house in Medina from Monday through Wednesday to avoid driving up Beacon Hill’s sloped streets.
As she approached her driveway Wednesday evening, she noticed the apartment lights were on, even though she had turned them off. Upon closer inspection, she saw that her door was wide-open.
“I see someone standing in my doorway with bags of mine, with a silver suitcase of mine,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “And immediately, I just lost it.”
Natalie ran up to the doorstep to confront the man coming out of her apartment with her things. He claimed to be there with the landlord's permission to fix the pipes, but Natalie did not believe the intruder for an instant — for one thing, the man referred to Natalie's female landlord as a "he."
“I start grabbing my stuff from him and he yanked it back, screaming, ‘Ask your landlord!'” Natalie described.
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He pushed her to the ground and ran away with her suitcases in tow. Natalie said that looking back, she wishes she had run after him or caught him on camera to show police, but that the fear and shock of that terrifying moment paralyzed her.
“I was so scared and freaked-out that I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
When Natalie walked in the door, she found a wasteland instead of the comforts of her home.
“My place was completely trashed,” she said.
A flat-screen TV, medications, gift cards, and, most importantly, irreplaceable jewelry from Natalie’s late grandmother were all gone. The squatter appeared to have also stolen everything out of Natalie’s bathroom, as well as all of the food in her fridge and pantry
Her clothes were still in the apartment, but the squatter had brought Natalie’s garbage in from the bins outside and dumped it all over her clothing, along with drugs and drug paraphernalia, to the point where Natalie had to throw out her entire wardrobe. Her sofa, now full of cigarette burns, is also ruined.
Bizarrely, the squatter appeared to have wreaked haavoc with Natalie’s furniture for no apparent reason, she said. He threw her bed and brand-new mattress-topper against the wall. Bathroom towels were shoved in her toilet. He took the Plexiglas off her windows and replaced it with her shower curtain and bed-skirt. Natalie found her underwear in a cupboard above her flooded sink.
“The place was just wrecked,” she said. “There’s barely anything salvageable, except for the things that he thought weren’t good enough for him.”
Police took photos of the ruined residence, got a description of the man, and tracked his scent with K-9s for about a mile down the road before losing the trail. Neither Natalie nor law enforcement have much hope of the squatter being caught.
After cleaning as much of the ransacked apartment she could with her father and boyfriend, Natalie handed in her keys and walked away from the place she had once called home.
“He ruined everything I have ever owned,” she said in an email to Dori.
A lifelong Puget Sounder, Natalie is devastated by what Seattle has become.
“The entrances to where the freeways are are just lined with homelessness and trash and tents,” she said, adding, “Seattle clearly has so many issues that need to be addressed … this is just distressing.”
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