Unless you’re saddled with small children or a packed-tight itinerary that would make a doctor’s schedule look relaxed, vacations should be a time of peace and rest. That’s all Crystal Taylor wanted—and didn’t get—when she packed her bags for a trip south.
A week and a half into her much-needed vacation, Crystal received an ominous phone call from her neighbor back in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. When she answered, she heard the horrifying news: something unpleasant had happened at her house and she needed to return right away. Unfortunately, the news only got worse from there…
When Crystal Taylor booked a trip to Cabo, Mexico—a 1,250-mile flight from her Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, home—she expected two weeks of sunbathing, drinks on the beach, and relaxation. But then her neighbor called with bad news…
Crystal immediately felt that something was wrong. After all, what person would dare spend international phone charges to deliver good news? As it turned out, according to her neighbor, something strange was going on at Crystal’s house…
Crystal unfortunately couldn’t deal with those problems in Mexico, so she packed up her things, booked a seat on the next flight back to Oklahoma, and waved goodbye to her vacation. Soon enough, when she returned home, she was horrified at what she saw.
Fresh scrapes and scratches decorated the cherry hardwood floors, stains from unknown liquids covered the upstairs carpet, and the house reeked like it’d been used as a temporary petting zoo. Still, it got worse.
Along with scratches, stains, and scents, cigarette butts and trash lay strewn about the floors. Crystal’s electronics hadn’t just been unplugged—they’d been ripped from the walls! The most horrifying sight of all, however, was inside her refrigerator.
Inside Crystal’s fridge, spots of mold peppered the shelves and walls like a plague. Cockroaches scuttled in and out of it. “I never imagined a house looking like this,” Crystal told Inside Edition. “It’s sad.”
The question, then, was how did all of this happen? In just 10 days, Crystal’s home went from quaint and clean to a bug-infested dumpster fire. Obviously, she needed to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Crystal had only been on her trip for a day or two when, around 3 a.m., neighbors spotted several people approaching the home. They didn’t go to the front door; they headed for the garage. There, they took out a crowbar and went to prying.
Soon, between six and 10 people had entered Crystal’s house through the busted garage door, and they had no intentions of this being a quick visit. The uninvited tenants made themselves right at home, unloading mattresses, five cats, and even a dog.
To celebrate their new digs, the squatters threw a housewarming party that apparently involved turning the pool a toxic shade of green. In a few days, they racked up thousands of dollars in damages—and that still wasn’t even the strangest part.
After neighbors called Crystal about the ongoing saga taking place in her home, the stunned homeowner notified the authorities. It should have been simple for Broken Arrow PD to round up the squatters, but the case, strangely, wasn’t so clear.
Investigators did some digging, and they discovered the identities of some of the unauthorized owners, including Cherie Chewning. But Cherie told Inside Edition, “I am innocent in this. I didn’t scam anyone.” And technically, Cherie wasn’t lying.
Cherie and her crew thought they’d legitimately rented the home. After all, it had been posted on Craigslist as an available rental property. Cherie even signed a lease agreement and received keys (though they didn’t work, hence the garage break-in).
Upon closely inspecting the document, it was obvious that Crystal’s name was nowhere on it, as the person who rented the home had the last name “Parker,” not Taylor. What was more, someone tried collecting a security deposit on a home they didn’t own.
“I know it reeks,” another unauthorized resident, Dale Mankins, told News On 6. “It looks bad on us, but with the lease, we got Shanghaied. [Crystal’s] being nice enough to let us get our stuff. We’ll go to another place.” So what could Crystal do? And who had rented out her home to these people?
Crystal wanted authorities to hand down some serious punishment. “It should be breaking and entering,” she said. “They broke into my home, they crawled underneath the garage, they have vandalized my home.”
Other matters complicated the situation further. Crystal claimed she found a box in the garage full of fake leases like the one Cherie’s crew signed. Had they faked a scam to earn a few nights in a vacant house, consequence-free?
Still, a commenter on the News On 6 article claimed that Crystal may not be telling the whole truth, either. “[Crystal’s house] is in my neighborhood and has been empty for months,” they wrote—far longer than the claimed 10 days.
With a muddy situation, the authorities issued a trespassing warning to the inhabitants. Meanwhile, a furious Crystal was left with a massive repair bill and a sense of violation that wouldn’t likely go away anytime soon.
So, who was right and who was wrong? Just see the extent of the damages to Crystal’s home. How could half-dozen people do so much damage to a place they thought was, legally, their own? Or is Crystal not being totally truthful about what happened?
What a lousy way to end a vacation. Hopefully authorities can sort out the truth one way or another and stop housing scams like this from happening in the future.
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