ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - An Albuquerque woman claims about a dozen squatters have taken over her home, and not only are they refusing to leave, she says one of them threatened to kill her.
The woman said the squatters showed up after she left for Texas for a couple of months. She's been afraid to stay home ever since she got back.
"They just took over my home, my land," Shelia Denton told KRQE News 13. She said roughly a dozen people made her South Valley property theirs without her permission.
It all started when she said she allowed her friend to stay there for a couple months with two kids while she went to Texas.
"The next thing I knew she had her mother, her sister, her sister's husband, her nephews, all kinds of people at my house," she explained.
Denton said they've been living in vehicles they parked by her home and even moved stuff inside her place. She claims they ran up the water bill to the point she couldn't pay it.
"They can't take baths. I don't know where they go. You can't flush the toilets," Denton explained. "It's gross."
When KRQE News 13 showed up, a child was on the property alone and said his dad was in the car sleeping. Denton said the group got violent when she asked them to leave, and that she's been hit, pushed and threatened.
Denton said one woman on the property sent her a text saying in part, "get ready to die."
On Wednesday she got Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies involved.
"I just need help, and I want protection because I'm scared for my life," she said.
Deputies pulled a couple of people out of a car on the property and said they told a different story claiming Denton allowed them to stay. Deputies said since it's their word against hers and because it's a civil dispute they can't force anyone to leave.
However, there are zoning concerns.
"The county zoning code does not allow one to reside in an RV for a period of longer than two weeks," said county Community Development Manager Enrico Gradi. It's illegal to live in a vehicle, he added.
Still, deputies said the people claim they had a verbal agreement, and Denton will have to go to court for an eviction notice.
"I'm terrified for my life," Denton told News 13. "I just want everybody out and let me get back on my feet."
Zoning officials said people living in the RV will have two weeks to find another place to live, and if they don't, they'll receive a notice of violation.
Denton was told to get a formal eviction notice, and at that point, the people will have 30 days notice to leave. Deputies on scene said people staying there said they agreed to leave, but they were still there by the time News 13 left the scene Wednesday afternoon.
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