This is a truly scary story about a really really bad tenant, originally published here in New York Magazine, and a shorter summary of the story published again here on Business Insider.
From the Business Insider article:
The accounts from Bachman’s previous victims are harrowing. According to New York, Bachman would steal belongings from his victims, fill their toilets with cat litter, and knock down doors, all the while keeping himself in the clear legally. It wasn’t about the free rent, New York Mag reported — it seemed Bachman took pleasure in watching his victims suffer through his misbehavior and lose the will to fight for their homes.
“Nothing they did could satisfy or appease him, because the objective was not material gain but, seemingly, the sadistic pleasure of watching them squirm as he displaced them,” the report says.
The story doesn’t end there. It’s worth reading the New York Mag piece in its entirety, but suffice to say it takes a tragic, grisly turn as the author discovers more and more details about Bachman’s past.
The young Philadelphia woman named Alex Miller needed a roommate, and Jed Creek (a fictitious name, it turned out) seemed to fit the bill. It was odd that he wanted to move in right away, and odd that his checks did not have a name or address on them, but she overlooked these things and let him move in right away. Luckily his check cleared the next day (it might not have — it’s a really bad idea to let someone move in before cashing their check, not depositing it)
Then things got worse. “Jed” refused to pay for utilities. Then “strange things began to happen”, such as his removal of light bulbs from a light fixture, and his removal of ALL the dining room chairs from the dining room. Then,
…he began sprinkling his speech with legalese. When they argued, he accused her of breaking “the covenant of quiet enjoyment,” a technical phrase Miller recognized from her days working for a real-estate agent. When he found a cigarette butt in the toilet bowl one afternoon, he told her flatly that he would not be paying the next month’s rent. As a paralegal, “you should know about the warranty of habitability,” he texted her.
At this point, Alex told her mother about her serious concerns about her new roommate, and her mother began doing a Google search and found out that “Jed Creek is not who he says he is.”
He was Jamison Bachman, and on the other side of town, a few years before, he had moved in with another woman into her home, and began to try to force her out of it.
Creek’s legal name was Jamison Bachman. In 2012, Bachman had shown up at the home of a woman across town named Melissa Frost, claiming to be a New Yorker whose home had been destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. Overcome with pity, Frost let him in — and nearly lost her house. In an expensive and frightening ordeal that dragged on for months, Bachman slowly laid claim to the space, using his intricate knowledge of tenancy laws to stay one step ahead of her. He scuffed up the floors, kicked down the doors, and clogged the toilets with cat litter. “He went from being this cordial, polite person who understood he was a guest in my house,” Frost said in one of the articles, “to someone who was approaching me aggressively and flat-out saying, ‘This is my house now.’ ”
But Bachman wasn’t a poor person looking for a free ride. Rather he was more of a sadist, whose real interest was in torturing people he had moved in with:
Bachman, these stories made clear, was a serial squatter operating on a virtuosic scale, driving roommate after roommate into court and often from their home. But Bachman wasn’t a typical squatter in that he did not appear especially interested in strong-arming his way to free rent (although he often granted himself that privilege); instead, he seemed to relish the anguish of those who had taken him in without realizing that they would soon be pulled into a terrifying battle for their home. Nothing they did could satisfy or appease him, because the objective was not material gain but, seemingly, the sadistic pleasure of watching them squirm as he displaced them.
With several of those he victimized, the first signs of trouble were so minor they were easy to overlook.
Often, the first signs of trouble were easy to downplay: In many cases, roommates came home to find a chandelier removed, a bookshelf filled with unfamiliar books, a couch or potted plant shifted slightly this way or that. These incursions, almost imperceptible, seemed calculated to unsettle.
Eventually things would escalate to the point where it was clear there was a war going on.
Time and again, Bachman’s roommates were informed that some minor discomfort they’d inflicted upon him (a dirty living room, a dish left in the sink) had voided their lease — and meant that Bachman wouldn’t be paying his rent. They considered him a guest in their home, but he made it clear that he saw it the other way around. “The effort he put into doing this was life-consuming,” Frost told me. “When things got bad between us, he stopped leaving the house, because he thought I might change the locks.” To her, Bachman appeared to function as if he were “at war.”
At some point, in each case, legal threats would be made against the women he was living with:
Bachman wrote to Frost in fury: “YOU ARE THE PROXIMATE CAUSE OF MY CAT’S DISAPPEARANCE AND PRESUMED DEATH … DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH ME AGAIN UNLESS IT IS THROUGH YOUR ATTORNEY.”
When one woman nicely tried to mediate a peaceful exit, it became clear what his intentions were
You’ve got your whole life in front of you. You’re pretty, and you’re talented, and you’ve got this house — well, you don’t have this house anymore. This house is my house.’ It was like something out of a movie.”
In one of the scariest situations, when a woman attempted to evict Bachman, going to court to file papers for the eviction, he retaliated by claiming she had come at him with a knife, and police arrested her, so the result was that for a period of time, she was forbidden from entering her own home!!
Alex Miller was finally able to get Bachman out of her home, when after having a party with a lot of friends over, intentionally trying to annoy him as much as possible, he lunged at her with a knife and was later arrested.
Jamison Bachman’s brother Harry bailed him out of jail, but a fight between them must have ensued, because Harry was found dead, and the evidence pointed to Jamison. Jamison Bachman was taken to jail again, where he later was found dead. He had hanged himself.
I dont’ think I’ve ever in my life come across as scary a “bad roommate” story as this one!