-- They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

 Jerry and Janice Ruhter moved their growing family into their new house in the quiet town of Carmel Valley. They would never have expected the strange series of events that would come to follow them. The happy family soon found themselves in a bizarre situation when a mysterious note appeared at their doorstep. The note that they found was an offer on their new house, Jerry and Janice were offered $100,000 to sell their newly purchased property. This letter would be the first in a long chain of events that would eventually drive the poor couple to near insanity.

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

Jerry and Janice spent months under siege from this mysterious stranger, and after a long and stressful investigation, the culprit was eventually caught in the act, and her identity revealed. Learning the identity of their abuser did anything but make their situation more comfortable, and it would remain a horror story for weeks to come.


How It All Began

So Jerry and Janice had been looking for houses in the quiet and peaceful town of Carmel Valley. Renee Milton, A local real estate agent, had found the Ruhters their "Dream House,"

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

The estate agent had found them a beautiful three-bedroom with a lovely garden, on a quiet road, and within their budget. And just in time as Janice was heavily pregnant at the time. Perfect! 


Time To Pack

The moving date was set, and the excited couple packed up their belongings into crates and boxes and waited patiently for the day of the big move to arrive. 

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

Little did the couple know that the day was fast approaching where everything about their dream move would be turned upside-down.


Moving Day Is Here

Moving day arrives, the Ruhter’s drive the removal truck to their new address and eagerly move in and begin to fill their new house with their belongings. Unpacking all of their things and making this new house a home.

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

The Ruhters were introduced to their new friendly neighbors, and the townspeople, utterly unaware of the series of strange happenings about to turn their lives upside down. 


Safe Surroundings

The Ruhter’s had picked this location because of the town’s reputation for being safe, clean and friendly.

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

With the townsfolk smiling and waving at the new arrivals as they drove it, The Ruhter family felt more than welcome in their new hometown.


A Strange Offer

The day arrives when things start to take a step in a weird direction, as Janice opens the front door to find a handwritten letter on their porch. The letter was written by a local woman who included her contact details and explained that she would like to purchase the house.

The letter offered the couple a cool $100,000 for their newly purchased home. Of course, Jerry and Janice had no intention of letting go of their dream house, and so declined the offer.


For Sale Or Not?

Janice and Jerry, bewildered by the strange letter, began to investigate. The couple soon found their house had been listed for sale on an online real estate website called "Zillow." Janice stated, "Jerry called me one day and asked if I had listed our home on Zillow, I, of course, said, "No, why would I ever do that?" Neither of us could understand why someone had put our house on the online market". 

So if neither Janice or Jerry had put their house up on the market, and it was never up for online sale in the first place - who wanted the house? And who listed it on Zillow?


Who Made The Listing?

The Ruhters did not list their house online. Confused about why this had happened, Mr. Ruhter called his realtor, hoping to find more information. 

Who could have listed their home on the website? Was this a simple mistake by the real estate company or was something more sinister being set in motion?


No Ideas

To Jerry's surprise, the realtor had no idea either as to how the house had ended up on an online listing. After hours of looking back through the records and attempting to find an IP address of where the listing was made, they had still come up empty handed.

Jerry began to expect that maybe someone was playing a prank on them and so decided to ignore the strange letter and the fact his house had mysteriously been listed online. 


Blissful Ignorance

In light of there being absolutely no leads the Ruhter’s put the strange happenings behind them and carried on enjoying their time in their new dream home.

Ignorance would prove to be one of their downfalls as this only emboldened the aggressor. The harassment starts here with the first letter being only an introduction as to what was to come, and this story would soon take a turn for the worst.


Strange Subscriptions

In the days closely following the first letter, the couple found themselves receiving magazine subscriptions, yet they had not signed up for any and as the house had been empty for some time, all mail of the previous occupants was no longer being posted to the address. 

Alongside these subscriptions, they received bills worth $1000s for bladder control products. Weird! The situation was getting progressively worse with a constant bombardment of letters and bills.


Time For Celebration?

After a few more days, the couple received an email online alerting them to an online advert inviting everyone to celebrate new years eve in their new home. By now, it was apparent to Jerry and Janice that they were being targeted by someone specifically. 

They had only recently moved into the neighborhood and could see no cause for any hostility, yet it seemed someone really wanted them out of the house, or at least wanted to prove a nuisance.


Making Connections

One day, Janice and Jerry's neighbor, Paul Abel came to their house and began furiously shouting at Jerry. Janice and Jerry had never even spoken to this neighbor and were taken aback by his anger towards them. Jerry asked Paul what his reason was for all this hostility.

What Paul said completely threw the couple off their feet! And they really began feeling the gravity of the situation in which they found themselves.


A Card Conundrum

The couple soon learned that Paul and his wife Tanya had received a valentines card in their mailbox. Jerry denied any part in this and told paul this was not a letter from him. 

Paul showed the couple the letter, addressed to Tanya and, you guessed it, signed by Jerry. Tanya and Jerry had never spoken, and Jerry was unaware of her name until Paul informed him.


Mr. Popular

Soon after the altercation with their neighbour Paul, It would turn out that not only Tanya had received a Valentine's Day card signed by Jerry. Every wife in their town had received a card proclaiming to be from Jerry..

Jerry, of course, had no clue as to why this had happened; however, he apologized to everyone who had received a card on his name. 


Time To Reach Out

The situation had gone too far now, and the Ruhters began to fear for the safety of their family in their new home. It was high time they reported the issue to local authorities. 

Now a clear cut case of harassment, they went to the police station and filed a claim, the only problem was figuring out who exactly the claim would be against. 


A Case Like No Other

With the situation ever-worsening, the couple was scared, and rightly so, as local authorities had never dealt with a case such as this and also feared for the couple's safety. 

Mr. Ruhter said that an officer had told him, "Whoever was doing this was likely very sick or mentally unstable. They are likely watching your every move" and that hearing this "Sent chills down my spine." 


A Terrific Mystery

So who was doing this to them? Their move into a dream home in a quiet suburban neighborhood was turning into a real and possibly very dangerous nightmare. With them being on good terms with everyone they knew, and their presence in town not widely known anyway, the Ruhters were at a loss.

The situation was becoming more real and threatening with each passing day. The few people the Ruhter’s had met all seemed very friendly and there was no immediate cause for alarm. The scariest part of this situation was that both they and the authorities had absolutely no leads as to who their harasser might be. With no direct contact by phone and no letters explaining any of the situations, the couple was at a loss.


Extra Security

The offender was still far from the reach of local authorities and had no idea what the harasser could be planning for the coming days. The Ruhters, following the advice of the police, installed CCTV cameras around their property in an attempt to catch or even deter the mysterious harasser.

And as an extra safety measure, they installed security spikes around the properties perimeter fencing. The Ruhters soon found their dream home was looking more like a prison than a family home.


Just In Case Classes

With their situation becoming a genuine threat, Janice began taking self-defense classes. The couple did not want to leave anything up to chance and even planned out an escape route. 

The stress of the whole situation was beginning to weigh on the couple's marriage, and the entire situation was getting out of hand. 


Just Jerry

With Janice focused on looking after their children and her self-defense classes, Jerry spent most of his time frantically checking through their CCTV footage for any trace of their harasser. 

Jerry began to continually walk around the house, checking for any way that the harasser might be able to get inside and harm his family. The stress of the situation was beginning to have adverse effects on the couple's mental health. 


The Beginning of Doubt

The incidents that had occurred weighed heavy on Jerry's mind, and he soon became very skeptical about everything and sunk into a depression. The constant threat of someone harming his family strongly affected his mental health, and the thought of this never left his side. He became agitated, distant, and paranoid, with Jerry laying awake at night worrying, his mental health was deteriorating with every passing day.

Janice found herself struggling to communicate with Jerry as the situation wore on. They needed each other in this period; however, the adverse effect this stress was having on the both of them was proving difficult to face.


The Stakes Are Raised

Just when they thought it couldn't get any worse than the current situation, the couple came across an advertisement. The advertisement, which included Janice's face, Phone number, Address, and the headline "Carmel Valley Adult Entertainment" 

Whoever was behind this was looking to step the harassment up to new heights. Janice was distraught at the fact that someone would stoop to this level and try to slander her name like this.


An Impolite Invitation

The article read "Come see me during the day while my husband is at work and we can get our freak on" Janice and Jerry were shocked. Jerry immediately called the police. It didn't take long for Janice to start receiving calls and objectifying messages. 

The Ruhters even had people turning up at the house, just adding to the already traumatic experience they were going through.


It's Getting Dangerous

The harasser took things a lot further with this situation and began responding to people's requests to see Janice. It would seem that Janice’s Imposter was willing to go to any lengths to hurt the Ruhter’s.

One man reportedly received the response "Just stop by any day of the working week between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. I like the element of surprise." Not only stopping there, but Janice's imposter also took it further by saying, "I'm pretty much home all day, every day, bored, and incredibly horny. I love to be surprised and have a man show up at the door and force his way in."


A Serious Response

One man responded to the harasser's messages and turned up at the Ruhter’s house; The man could not meet Janice as, luckily, Jerry was there to answer the door. The man told Jerry he had accidentally turned up at the wrong address and left.

Later that night the man would send an email to Janice's imposter that read, "A guy was there. Had to make up an excuse for why I was there." of course the Ruhter’s were not aware of the responses and emails being sent back and forth between the imposter and the public.


Trying Their Best

With the danger ever-increasing, the Ruhters were at their wit’s end. They had tried everything they could think of, yet they remained no closer to catching the harasser. They had left no clues, and had no apparent motive, other than harming the couple. 

The couple and the authorities had tried everything they could think of at this point and were beginning to feel like they may never be free of this torment.


Maintaining Mystery

With no evidence, no clues, and no hope, the identity of their harasser looked as if it would forever be out of reach. That was until the couple recalled the letter they had received upon first moving into their home. 

The letter with the offer of $100,000 for their dream home was addressed from one Kathy Rowe. The couple had forgotten about this letter and Kathy's offer in light of all of the strange happenings shortly afterward.


The Previous Offer

Kathy had expressed her desire to purchase the couples newly bought home, Janice and Jerry, were not willing to sell and so turned her offer down. The Ruhter’s had no real reason to suspect that this woman could be the one harassing them.

With nothing even close to a lead and the stress of imminent danger ever building, Janice took this as her only lead and decided to do some research of her own.


Social Sorrows

Janice searched for Kathy on Facebook and was lucky enough to come across her profile. Janice immediately recognized the woman as she had previously come to their house on Halloween while Trick-or-Treating. 

The penny dropped! With this being their only possible lead and with all hope dwindling the couple reported their new information to the police.


Doing Some Digging

The police did a little investigating into Kathy Rowe and pretty soon began unearthing things that only consolidated the couple's suspicion over her. Strange purchases, odd social media posts, and a losing bid on the Ruhter’s house all pointed to one thing. 

It looked as if she might well have something to do with this case. So, were they getting closer to catching their harasser?


The Losing Bid

Kathy Rowe, a 53-year-old woman, was a mother to a disabled daughter, and wife to a husband who had recently suffered a massive heart attack. Kathy and her husband had been searching the area for years trying to find a suitable, one-story, home that would suit the needs for their disabled daughter.

Kathy bid on the house but was outbid by Janice and Jerry. This infuriated her and led her down the dark path that would see her the couple suffer for months.


Moms Gone Mad

Ironically, Kathy had been counted in San Diego's "50 Best Moms" for the care she gave to her disabled daughter.

 It was unbelievable that she might then be capable of such hideous aggression towards Janice and Jerry. Could it be possible that a supposed loving and caring mom did this?


Fuelled By Desire

Kathy had had her eye on the house for a very long time. She had felt very positive vibes around the house and said: "When I walked in, I felt like it was my house."  It seemed she would be willing to go to any lengths to get the house.

Kathy wanted the house at any cost and said, "I was jealous, devastated, and distraught with pain and depression," She was heartbroken.


Heartbroken

Kathy reminisced, "When I found out we didn't get the house, it was devastating, it was heart-breaking" adding "It was almost like the loss of a loved one” Out of context you would feel sorry hearing her story.

Mrs. Rowe also adding “It was that critical to me." it was clear to see that losing the house had severely affected Kathy and her mental health.


How She Felt

Kathy admitted that while she knew the couple did not mean to harm her, them purchasing the house did so. It was clear to see just how much this house, and losing it, had meant to Kathy.

Saying "They didn't mean to harm me, but them getting the house did harm me. It's a little bit of payback so that it would lessen the pain. I'm going through so much pain, so if I cause someone else a little bit of pain, it equalizes it or at least helps me feel better." 


Compiling The Case

With the evidence piling up, a task force was put together to compile all of the evidence and build a case against Kathy. The case was clear cut and it didn’t take the team long to provide a solid case against Mrs. Rowe.

She would eventually own up to her involvement, and the case would subsequently see Kathy sentenced to nine years in federal prison for harassment charges against the Ruhter family.


Under House Arrest

Kathy had her sentence of nine years reduced to only one year of house arrest after she filed a plea of felony stalking and made an apology to the couple. 

Kathy was required to wear an ankle monitor at all times as well as staying on probation for five years.


A Severe Scare

San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh said "It is one of the most disturbing cases I have handled. She really terrorized this young couple. They have had to seek out counseling to cope with it," 

It was clear to see that everyone was completely taken aback by this case. Nothing like this had ever happened in their town before. Let’s hope it never does again!


No Cruel Intentions

Kathy tried to tell the court that she initially had no intention of causing harm to the family. However, lack of sleep, taking care of her disabled daughter, and a hectic schedule, only increased her frustration leading to her acting the way she did.

Kathy tried everything she could to win the courts favor but after what she put the Ruhter’s through it must have been a hard sell.


An Explanation

Kathy stood in front of the judge and jury with her head held low in shame. "I just wanted to say how humiliated I am by my behavior – that this is not representative of who I am. I've never behaved like this – never will again," She explained in the court. 

Would this be seen as a just reason for the way she acted? Or was this just a desperate attempt to avoid her punishment?


Driven To Madness

The court and the Ruhter's heard out Kathy's testaments. With Kathy saying "The anger and grief over losing that house (and especially in the way we did) drove me to behave in a very childish way. It drove me to do what I thought were childish pranks to let off steam and ease the pain."

Kathy once said, "I never intended for them to be hurtful." whatever she had initially intended it had clearly got out of hand in a downwards spiral of pent up hatred and anger. 


Too Much To Bare

She clarified, "There were so many things needing my help and my attention. I just became exhausted." she stated. "I was working full time and then doing my husband's work at night, as well as dealing with my daughter. She has had very severe school issues.”

Going on to add, “My best friend became sick, and her disabled son needed care. So I was, literally, like, running myself ragged and trying to exist on two hours of sleep, and it, unfortunately, affected my thinking. I believed I could cope with it and deal with it. I didn't realize how poorly I was dealing with it until all of this happened." 


Moving Forward

It would take Janice and Jerry a very long time to recover from this incident. The Ruhters still feared that Kathy might try to harm their family again. And as the law has been very lenient in sentencing Kathy that fear could have come to be realized sooner rather than later.

With Kathy only living a few miles from Janice and Jerry, the Ruhters could never be fully at ease. Jerry said, "Kathy is dangerous, there is no question she was out to physically assault someone in my family."


No Room For Sympathy

Janice and Jerry showed no sympathy for Kathy, and rightly so after the months of torment that Mrs. Rowe had put their family through.

The Ruhters told the court how they felt about Mrs. Rowe saying "The purchase of a home, taking care of a toddler, and a newborn left us in a vulnerable state, and it was at this time that Mrs. Rowe began her pattern of attacks." it was clear to see that they felt very strongly against Kathy.


Their "Safe Haven"

Mr. Ruhter shared his pain with the court, saying, "The home should be a place of safety and sanctuary," 

He went on to add, "But I never truly felt this way in our house. I felt most secure away from my home. The house became my prison.”


A Game Of Roulette

Jerry had a lot to say about Kathy when in court. He stated, "She was kind of playing Russian roulette with my family, you know," 

Mr. Ruhter then went on to add, "There's no question in my mind that she would get the right person at the right time to come to my house, and things would have happened."


The Long Arm of The Law

Jerry Ruhter concluded that "Had law enforcement not intervened in this case, I am certain Mrs. Rowe would have continued her attacks until she successfully brought physical harm to a member of my family," adding "She even tried to get Janice raped and that makes this case even more disgusting."

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

The Ruhter’s made it very clear to the court and jury just how badly they had been treated by the abusive Mrs. Rowe.


She Stopped

Kathy's attorney, Brad Patton defended Kathy in court saying, "She stopped the harassment of her own accord when some of the pressure had been alleviated." 

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

With Patton also saying, "You look at the woman's life, and there is nothing that remotely suggests her doing anything like this. She has been an outstanding mother, wife, and community member. It was totally out of her character."


No Chance Of Apology

The Ruhter's, when asked if they would ever forgive Kathy Rowe, replied, "We would love to forgive her. However, I don't think she has really apologized for the full scope of what she has done to us." 

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

With Janice also adding, "We hope and pray that she doesn't make bad decisions such as this anymore." I think we can all agree on that one.


A Unique Case

Cases like this are few and far between, and Janice and Jerry Ruhter, alongside the people of Carmel Valley, would never have imagined something like this could happen to them.

They Found Their Dream House, But Had No Idea Living There Would Become a Nightmare

Kathy targeted the couple out of her own pent up frustration, which led to the Ruhters almost falling apart. Kathy seemed to show no real remorse for her actions, which only added to the tension between the two families. 

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