9 squatters get 30 days jail, fines


By John Hamilton - and Tom Barr - News Journal



“No trespassing” signs are posted at various points on the property.


These items were observed in rooms throughout the house Friday, the day after nine people were arrested at the house.


Tom Barr | News Journal

WILMINGTON — Nine accused squatters pled guilty to trespassing on vacant property.

All currently incarcerated at the Clinton County Jail, each made his or her plea before Clinton County Municipal Court Judge Mike Daugherty on Monday. All were initially charged with breaking and entering (felony 4) and arrested Thursday by Wilmington Police.

Daugherty sentenced each to 30 days in jail with four days of credit, fined $250, and they must have no contact with any unoccupied property in Clinton County under threat of contempt of court.

Those found living in a vacant apartment house at 889 Rombach Ave. were: Benjamin Benningfield, 30; Gaige Snow, 18; Monte Colwell, 64; Jerrod Griffith, 35; Dereck Harris, 37; Zachary Nichols, 27; Christopher Hoffer, 36; Sirenity Stottlemire, 29; and Mariah Mider, 28.

Several of the suspects are facing other pending charges in municipal court.

• Colwell was charged with aggravated menacing on Feb. 18.

• Hoffer faces a resisting arrest charge from September 2020 and a trespassing charge from January this year.

• Snow was charged with drug instrument possession in August 2020.

• Stottlemire, during her appearance on Friday, pled guilty to a pending driving under suspension-failing to appear/pay from last month.

The three-story house, with several “No Trespassing — Violators Will Be Prosecuted” signs clearly posted outside, has door locks that at some point have been broken off and doors to several apartments in the structure have been apparently pried/jimmied open, News Journal staff observed Friday.

Several rooms contained possessions of the squatters who made the home their own Throughout the house are including many backpacks, clothing and other personal items, and cell phones.

Also observed out in the open were several spoons with burn marks, small lighters/torches, hollow cigarettes/rolling papers, syringes, and a knife, along with a dozen or so bicycles

The rental property’s owner is Fred Haught, who owns around 50 properties in Clinton County according to the Auditor’s Office website, some of those houses vacant for some time.

He said he hadn’t been in the house for a couple of months when he took someone to show them the property last week and made the discovery.

https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/03/web1_DSC_0576.jpg

“No trespassing” signs are posted at various points on the property.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/03/web1_DSC_0549.jpg“No trespassing” signs are posted at various points on the property.

https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/03/web1_DSC_0575.jpg

These items were observed in rooms throughout the house Friday, the day after nine people were arrested at the house.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/03/web1_DSC_0569.jpgThese items were observed in rooms throughout the house Friday, the day after nine people were arrested at the house. Tom Barr | News Journal

By John Hamilton

and Tom Barr

News Journal