My friend Martha Kelly, former Greenwich, and now best realtor in Naples, Florida, sends along this cautionary tale:
Disappointed home bidder makes winners’ life hell.
A 53-year-old woman in San Diego terrorized a couple for over a year because she was “jealous” that they had out-bid her on a house she had wanted to buy.
“It was a huge stress in our life for so long,” Janice Ruhter, 37, told People magazine. “We are trying to heal the best way we can.”
Ruhter and her husband, Jerry Rice, 40, are attempting to put their lives back together nearly 3 years after middle school special-ed teacher Kathy Rowe began her crusade to make their time inside their Carmel Valley home a living hell.
The couple had driven Rowe over the edge because they had scored the Spanish-style residence she wanted shortly after it went on the market in 2011.
Rice and Ruhter, who was 9-months-pregnant at the time, were one of eight families who placed bids on the property — and when they won, they couldn’t be happier.
But their dreams of owning a home with a big yard and a school down the street in San Diego’s upscale suburbs soon became a living nightmare as Row kickstarted her vengeful campaign in late 2011.
Over the span of a year and a half, the couple’s mail was purposely stopped, they had religious missionaries called to their address on numerous occasions, their pictures were posted around town in advertisements for sex parties, and their home was listed “for sale” on a real-estate website.
Rowe even sent valentines to the neighborhood wives that were purportedly from Rice, the couple said.
In one incident, three men showed up at the Rice and Ruhter’s home in response to an online ad titled “Janice Ruhter’s Freak Show.” Rowe had posted the inquiry as an email in an attempt to solicit locals, urging them to “show up at the door and force your way om and on me, totally taking me while I say no.”
“I started freaking out,” Ruhter told People. “How far was this person going to take it? I didn’t feel safe.”
The couple notified the authorities about the frightening ordeal and federal agents eventually managed to link the emails to the married mother of a now 16-year-old daughter, who is disabled.
Rowe was arrested in Oct. 2012 and charged with soliciting rape and sodomy, identity theft and harassment, according to People.
She pleaded guilty to a felony stalking charge in 2014 and was sentenced on Jan. 9 to home detention and probation.
“She never accepted that what she did nearly got this woman raped,” said San Diego Deputy District Attorney, Brendan McHugh. It is one of the most disturbing cases I have handled. She terrorized this young couple.”
Rowe has been ordered to stay away from Rice and Ruhter — and their home — for the next 10 years.
No mention of whether she’s still teaching but, knowing The NEA and its protective contracts, I’m sure she is.