Van Buren woman says tenants trashed house, disappeared

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 08:28:03-04

LAWRENCE, Mich. – The pictures tell the story: a massive mess left behind after Van Buren County landlady Shawna Hummel says she rented two of her homes to the same tenants.

For nearly two years, Hummel rented her property in Decatur to a couple, who FOX17 isn’t naming until charges are issued. Hummel claims when non-payment and disturbances became a consistent issue, she evicted them.

She says thought nothing of it, until later that week when she arrived at her second property in Lawrence – one she had been fixing up. She says she was met with an unwelcome surprise.

“Their trucks there…and they’re there,” said Hummel. “And they said ‘well we just needed a place to stay so we just over ourselves in.’”

She says the couple refused to leave the home, changed the locks, and according to Hummel, threatened violence. She claims she went through the proper channels, and evicted them again. But says when she went inside, much of the work she had sunk her life savings into, was destroyed or gone altogether.

“Everything was gone,” she said. “It’s bare. It’s just a shell of a house now.”

The house was gutted, Hummel says. From the appliances to the walls and floors themselves, there was nothing left.

“They stole the furnace, the fuse box, the hot water heater, the brand new linoleum. They took the bathtubs the sinks, the showers, the toilets. They broke off all my cabinet doors, took off all my trim, broke my fireplace.”

Hummel also said outside, she discovered several malnourished or pregnant dogs, and one dead canine in the yard. FOX17 reached out to Van Buren County Animal Shelter who were not available for comment.

Hummel said she is out some $40,000 because of the damages. A police report has been filed with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and charges against the couple could come later in the week.

Note: Since this story aired, one of the unnamed tenants in question reached out to FOX 17 disputing the allegations against them, despite a police report being on file. We have asked that tenant to speak with us on camera for their side of the story and hope to bring that to you in upcoming editions of FOX 17 News.