Relationships with neighbors are rather complicated affairs. Most of the time they’re strangers and the only thing you have in common with them is geographical location. But you’ll see and hear from them on a regular basis, quite possibly for years. Disagreements and arguments are inevitable, but sometimes they go beyond “dispute” and into “disturbing vendetta” territory.
10. Alan Markovitz
59-year-old strip club owner Alan Markovitz was going through a separation with his wife, Lea Tuohy. Tuohy had been cheating on him, and after their separation she moved in with the man she had been having the affair with. Markovitz was of course upset, but rather than taking it like a mature adult by picking up the pieces of his broken heart and moving on with his life he lashed out like an angry teenager with way too much money.
Markovitz moved next door to his ex and her new boyfriend. He spent $7000 to build a 12-foot bronze statue in the shape of a middle finger and stuck it in his backyard directly facing his ex’s house. He claims he’s over his ex and the middle finger is directed at her new boyfriend. Sure, buddy. Sure.
9. Lynne Taylor and Christopher Levasseur
One of the more unusual cases of neighbor harassment comes from Warwick, Rhode Island, where Craig Fontaine and Kathleen Melker lived beside Lynne Taylor and Christopher Levasseur. Problems arose in August and September 2011, when Fontaine and Melker claimed their neighbors fired BB pellets at their car and kayak. Taylor and Levasseur also tried to kill the other couple’s cat by locking it in the trunk of their car on a hot day. A restraining order was put in place against them, because attempted pet murder is, to use the legal term, “cuckoo crazy.”
The strangest claim was that Taylor and Levasseur trained their cockatoo to insult Fontaine and Melker. The bird would swear at them loudly throughout the day, but when Fontaine and Melker called the police to complain, the police said Taylor and Levasseur were not violating the restraining order because the bird was the one making the comments, not the couple. Presumably the bird just picked up the foul language from a movie or something then.
8. Felice and Ralph Scala
Canadians are famous for being nice, polite and neighborly. But there are exceptions to every rule, as demonstrated by father Felice and son Ralph Scala. The Scalas lived in the Junction neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario. The Junction is a small community where a lot of houses are crammed together. While most people find this quaint, the neighbors of the Scalas thought it was hell.
Take 87 year old widow Carmela Canino, who had been living in the neighborhood since 1958. Felice Scala was having problems with some criminal charges, so he asked Canino for a character reference and she chose not to give him one. Scala was so offended that she wouldn’t defend his character he had her windows smashed, had broken tire spokes placed in her lawn and threw dead animals on her property. When she was cleaning up the mess he’d stand outside and laugh.
Other people in the neighborhood were also having problems. One coffee shop kicked the father and son out after they repeatedly harassed and bullied customers and staff. The shop’s windows were smashed seven times. A local Chinese restaurant was also the victim of smashed windows and slashed tires after they fired Ralph from his delivery driver gig.
The police weren’t doing much, so people in the neighborhood set up a CCTV system and captured a man named Mikhail Ahmed vandalizing a car. He was arrested and told the police he was being paid by Ralph Scala to commit all the damage. Scala pleaded guilty to 49 different charges, was ordered to pay restitutions and was banned from the neighborhood for three years. Felice was later charged with violating a probation order, and though he moved out of the neighborhood he still owns the house.
7. Lori Christensen
In 1998, Greg and Kim Hoffman moved into a home in White Bear, Minnesota. Three years later, Lori Christensen and her daughter moved in next door. At first, things were good between the neighbors. That was until about 2009, when Christensen’s daughter poured nail polish on one of the Hoffman children. Kim Hoffman went over to talk to Christensen about the incident. Christensen didn’t like the accusation and told Hoffman that she should take care of her own children. While this should have been just a simple spat between neighbors, it was actually the start of a campaign of terror against the Hoffman family that would last for five years.
Christensen constantly harassed the Hoffmans, often mocking Kim because she was struggling with alcoholism. Christensen told the Hoffman’s son that his mother was an alcoholic in front of his friends, she performed mock strip teases and simulated masturbation while one of the children was celebrating their 12th birthday, and she hung nearly 50 different signs on her garage with things like “I saw mommy kissing a breathalyzer” or “Get a life you stalking loser freaks.”
Then it got despicable. After Kim had been hospitalized for mixing alcohol and painkillers, she came out of her house to find Christensen yelling at her children. When she went to get them Christensen told Kim and her children that she wished Kim had died in the hospital.
Christensen claims she was just defending herself and doesn’t regret what she did. When asked if she felt guilty for telling Kim that she wished she had died, Christensen said “Why? Because that’s where she was headed, she was the scotch drinker, not I.” Christensen also said all of this stemmed from Greg Hoffman wanting to have an affair with her, an accusation he adamantly denied.
The Hoffmans got a restraining order, which Christensen violated. In 2012, she was given five years of probation, 50 hours of community service and fined $50. A new restraining order was put in place and she had to stay at least a mile away from the Hoffmans, meaning she had to move out of her house. Christensen looks at all of this as “speed bumps” in life and is looking forward to moving on, possibly by harassing her new neighbors.
6. Mitchell Igelko
There are two different stories about how the feud between Mitchell Igelko and his neighbors began. According to his neighbors, it started when they fired Igelko’s company from doing maintenance on their lawns. Igelko’s wife claims it stems from a time when his beloved dog was discovered badly beaten and bleeding.
Regardless of the origins, Igelko started terrorizing his neighbors in his Southwest Miami-Dade neighborhood. Some of the highlights include murder threats, egging houses and poisoning the neighbor’s lawn so bad that the soil had to be replaced. He also dropped nails on driveways and the road in front of houses, smashed car windows, poured flammable liquid on cars and was even accused of firebombing a boat.
The neighbors installed video surveillance, which caught Igelko in the act. He was arrested and originally given five years of probation, although he eventually only had to face charges of harassing phone calls. He since moved out of the neighborhood, to the relief of everyone.
5. The O’Briens
Lea Hall is an area in the city of Birmingham, England. It was the home of the O’Brien family, who were well known for trying to control the neighborhood through harassment and violence. Police were called to their home at least 40 times for serious incidents. Three family members were jailed for crimes including drug dealing, firearm offenses and car hijacking.
What’s really disturbing is that this went on for 10 years. Things finally came to a head in 2012 when the O’Briens and a few other people were brawling in the streets and police responded. An officer had part of his nose bitten off by a dog, and while it was thankfully re-attached it was the end of the line for the O’Briens, who were evicted from their home.
They claim they’re victims of a vendetta, and patriarch Lee O’Brien collected 45 signatures saying his family didn’t harass anyone. The police counter that many neighbors were terrified of speaking out against the family because they feared repercussion, because apparently British communities are run like Mafia families.
4. Jeanne Wilding
Bottomley is a small hamlet between Leeds and Manchester and is made up primarily of four expensive estates for people commuting to the two major cities. It was a peaceful, idyllic little spot until 57 year old retired businesswoman Jeanne Wilding moved there in 2002.
One neighbor said that there was a problem with Wilding almost every day for 16 months. Between July 2004 and November 2005 there was an astounding 259 incidents that the court heard about, including throwing broken glass and nails onto driveways, pouring oil onto their lawns, throwing dead animals onto their properties and vandalizing cars. In the middle of the night she blared choir music about rape and murder. She destroyed gardens that had been sustained for 10 years. There was a run-in that led to Wilding dumping a bag of compost on a neighbor’s head. She put up bright spotlights and shined them into her neighbors’ windows. She also recorded all her neighbors on CCTV.
The whole thing was so devastating to her neighbors that three of them actually sought treatment for depression. 15 people and organizations brought charges against Wilding and she was given an anti-social behavior order (ASBO) citation.
Wilding claims that she is the victim, and that Bottomley was full of hateful people with vendettas against each other that she just got in the middle of. However, it was revealed in court that Wilding was involved in similar incidents in her old neighborhood, and since the ruling she has broken the terms of her ASBO and been involved in weird run-ins in charity shops in Leeds, leading to more ASBOs and jail time.
3. Michael Carroll
Your neighbors are usually in a similar socioeconomic situation to you, but then there’s the case of Michael Carroll. In 2002, Michael Carroll was a 19-year-old garbage man living in Norfolk, England. Then he won £9.7 million ($15.4 million USD) in the National Lottery.
So started the nightmare of people in Swaffham, Norfolk, where Carroll bought a mansion called the Grange. He started years of partying, during which he apparently spent over £1 million ($1.6 million USD) on prostitutes and drugs. He also turned his yard into a demolition derby that went on for 24 hours a day. It covered the neighborhood in dust and at any time, day or night, there could be a car crash that led to visits from ambulances and fire trucks. His behavior was so bad that the police set up a hotline for his neighbors to call if Carroll was getting out of hand.
By 2010, Carroll had lost all his money and was forced to sell the Grange. He originally bought it at a price of £340,000 ($569,000 USD) and then spent another £400,000 ($669,000) pimping out his crib, making him all in for £740,000 ($1.2 million USD). However, the years of partying led to the house being completely trashed. When he sold it, the best price he could get was £142,000 ($237,590). Carroll said he was happy to be rid of the house because it holds a lot of bad memories. He now works in a cookie factory.
2. Barry Ardolf
Children like to explore their surroundings, and Matt and Bethany Kostolnik’s four year old son was no different. Shortly after moving into their home in the Minnesota suburb of Blaine, the boy wandered into 46 year old Barry Ardolf’s backyard. Ardolf, a computer technician and father of two, scooped up the boy and brought him back to his parents, where he kissed the young boy on the lips upon dropping him off.
Naturally, this weirded out the Kostolniks, so they called the police. Ardolf was quite upset that the police would pay a visit over something like that, so he decided fair payback was ruining Matt Kostolnik’s life.
Ardolf downloaded a hacking program and hijacked the Kostolniks’ Wi-Fi. From there, he opened a few email accounts and a MySpace page with Matt Kostolnik’s name. Ardolf then posted pictures of child pornography and emailed Matt’s co-workers and bosses at his law firm with those pictures. He also started sending threatening emails to various politicians, including Vice President Joe Biden. This led to the secret service visiting Kostolnik.
This continued for two years. Needless to say, Matt’s life was becoming very troubled and he wasn’t sure why. He wasn’t the one sending the emails and he didn’t know who was. His law firm hired an investigator and they discovered that Ardolf had been messing with the Kostolniks’ network. The FBI was notified and Ardolf was arrested and given an 18 year prison sentence. When he’s out he’ll have to register as a sex offender. This wasn’t new behavior for him — he had done something similiar to his neighbor while living in Brooklyn. He was upset with them because they had the audacity to park cars in front of his house.
1. Ken McElroy
Everyone in Skidmore, Missouri knew who Ken McElroy was. He harassed the people of Skidmore relentlessly since he was old enough to do so. He stole, vandalized their property and was linked to a number of violent assaults and arsons. He was also violent with the women he had relationships with.
The townspeople tried to stand up to McElroy and he was charged 21 different times, but each time he managed to avoid persecution. It helped that he would threaten or bully witnesses until the charges were dropped.
Things finally reached a boiling point in 1980 when one of McElroy’s 10 children was accused of stealing from the town’s grocery store. McElroy showed up with a shotgun and got into an argument with the 70 year old owner. McElroy shot the elderly grocer, who thankfully survived. McElroy was arrested and this time he was actually convicted of assault, but was released on bail until sentencing.
While on bail McElroy continued his bullish ways, carrying a rifle and threatening the life of the grocer he shot. The town was so upset and terrified of McElroy that that on July 10, 1981, they held a town meeting about what to do with him. While everyone was at the meeting, McElroy went to the town bar. The concerned citizens heard he was at the bar and ventured over to it. McElroy was leaving the bar with his 15 year old wife Trena, and while sitting in his truck he was shot twice by two different guns. No one called an ambulance and the 47 year old town bully died from his wounds.
There were dozens of witnesses and the killing took place in broad daylight, but only Trena claimed to identify a shooter. So no one was ever been charged with the murder and almost everyone in the town seems to be satisfied with that, feeling justice had already been served. Judge for yourselves whether or not that’s true.