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Judge orders Safety Harbor squatters to move out

Elizabeth Sewall, right, and her grown daughter, Jessica, have stayed in the house owned by Judson Randall, left, since June without paying rent. The Sewalls must leave by 5 p.m. today.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Elizabeth Sewall, right, and her grown daughter, Jessica, have stayed in the house owned by Judson Randall, left, since June without paying rent. The Sewalls must leave by 5 p.m. today.

CLEARWATER — After nearly eight months of living in Judson Randall's house without paying any rent or utilities, Elizabeth Sewall and Jessica Sewall were ordered Thursday to leave by 5 p.m. today.

Elizabeth Sewall, 50, admitted to Circuit Judge John Schaefer during a hearing Thursday that she had no ownership rights to the house at 979 14th Ave. S in Safety Harbor.

"Mr. Randall asked you to leave, right?'' Schaefer asked.

"We don't want to stay there,'' Elizabeth Sewall answered.

Schaefer then asked her how it came to be that she and her daughter Jessica Sewall, 20, are still residing at the home.

Elizabeth Sewall said she and her daughter were living in Orlando and she had lost her job. In June, Randall, 47, an acquaintance of her sister's, had offered them a place to stay, saying "the first month is free.''

"It's an old house,'' Elizabeth Sewall said. "It was in bad condition. It was shocking. The agreement was that we would go there and fix it.''

But she said Randall did not give her and her daughter any suitable paint to do the job.

She said the pair tried to find work, "but it was impossible, there was nothing.''

She said Randall was aggressive and abusive. She said he gave her a lawn mower to cut the grass but it conked out. When her dog gave birth, she said it was Randall who pressured her to sell the puppies when they were 4 weeks old.

When a few of the pups were sold, she told the judge, Randall stole the money.

Randall denied the accusations.

After listening to Elizabeth Sewall's story, Schaefer told her that there were good intentions in the beginning but that fell apart.

"You really have no legal right to stay there,'' Schaefer said. "How long do you think it will take to move your belongings?''

Elizabeth Sewall, who said she didn't know where she and her daughter would go, indicated it would probably take more than one car trip to move their two pets, computer, coffee maker and other things.

Schaefer looked at Randall and asked him if he would be willing to give them more time to relocate.

"I don't want to give them another minute,'' Randall said.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Judge orders Safety Harbor squatters to move out 01/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:41pm]
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