While Kevin Hershewe and his family were out of town for Christmas, their landlord "evicted" them from their Lake Worth home.
By "evicted," we mean that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is investigating it as a burglary.
Hershewe wasn't exactly prepared for how this landlord-tenant dispute would end -- coming home with his family around Christmas to find his house broken into, with what was left of his family's belongings, including the children's toys, strewn across the front lawn.
Hershewe says the problems started shortly after they started renting the house they'd found on Craigslist about a year ago -- their landlord, Brian Murphy, never got around to fixing things.
When Murphy left the family with a stack of deposit slips and said he was going out of town, Hershewe says the home's air conditioning broke, and Murphy was nowhere to be found.
Eventually, there were no deposit slips left for Hershewe to pay the rent, and he says Murphy didn't show up for another two months -- when a water pipe to the house was magically severed.
Hershewe says he asked Murphy about that pipe and claims Murphy told him, "I need to get your attention somehow."
That was just the beginning of the dispute over rent money, while led to a magically missing power meter the next day and more bills for Hershewe to pay.
The cops were called out and the home was in a state of disrepair, at which point Hershewe's family -- including three children -- decided to stay elsewhere for a little over two weeks around Christmas.
When they came back to the house, the house was broken into. The house was empty -- many of the family's belongings were missing, while the rest was piled onto the front lawn.
Hershewe asked his neighbor if he knew what happened. The neighbor told Hershewe that Murphy had enlisted him to help "evict" the family from the home -- not knowing that he'd unknowingly helped ransack Hershewe's place.
Teri Barbera of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office confirmed that there was an eviction process under way, but that eviction process was not complete. She also confirmed that the neighbor thought he was helping in an eviction.
Barbera says a deputy called Murphy to ask him about what happened, and Murphy hung up. Deputies called Murphy three more times and left messages asking him to return their calls -- which Murphy never did.
As far as criminal charges, Barbera says the sheriff's office is "leaving it in the hands of the State Attorney's Office," although she did clarify that the open case with the sheriff's office is classified as a burglary.
Friends of Hershewe tell New Times that they're planning on figuring out a way to help him and his family get back on their feet, so we'll keep you posted on that as well as any criminal charges in the case.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.