Eau Gallie ‘zombie house’ where man was killed faces Melbourne City Hall crackdown

Eau Gallie ‘zombie house’ where man was killed faces Melbourne City Hall crackdown


CLOSE

FLORIDA TODAY’s Rob Landers brings you some of today’s top stories on the News in 90 Seconds.

Florida Today

Support local journalism. An unlimited digital subscription to floridatoday.com is just $1 for 6 months. Click here and subscribe today. 

Boarded-up windows and outdoor debris mar an Eau Gallie “zombie house” where a woman fatally overdosed in 2018 — and a man was beaten and killed last year.

“I have been advised that the home is under foreclosure, and people are living (in) it with no power. I have been told they are running a generator for the power, and there are open-air drug sales,” Melbourne Mayor Paul Alfrey said in a May email to City Manager Shannon Lewis.

The home at 1086 Garfield St. is in the Bowe Gardens residential neighborhood, just northeast of the intersection of Sarno and Croton roads. 

The 1,300-square-foot house on a ⅓-acre lot slipped into foreclosure in 2007 — and the complicated case remains bogged down in court 14 years later. 

City Attorney Alison Dawley said the home’s last two owners, a mother and son, died in 2004 and 2020, respectively. She said the house’s fate has been tied up in probate court and a bankruptcy case — and a June foreclosure sale was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, court records show.

“It’s what I would refer to almost like a ‘zombie house,’ ” Dawley told the Melbourne City Council on Tuesday night.

“There’s no real owner, because we don’t know who owns it because nobody has probated the estate. It’s protected in the foreclosure suit from any code enforcement liens,” Dawley said.

Such a situation is known in the financial community as a zombie foreclosure.

Tuesday, the Melbourne City Council authorized legal action to try to speed up the process. This marks the first such action in recent city history, Dawley said. Upcoming steps:

  • The city will file a Circuit Court complaint, asking a judge for for injunctive relief, arguing that the home is a public nuisance that hosts illicit activities.

“Grand theft, recovery of stolen property, search warrants. Just an awful lot of criminal activity at this particular property,” Dawley told council members.

  • Dawley hopes to file a motion in the foreclosure case to notify the judge of problems associated with the home.
  • And the city will contact the mortgage-holder.
Buy Photo

Melbourne City Hall officials are cracking down on this “zombie house” at 1086 Garfield St. in Eau Gallie. (Photo: RICK NEALE/FLORIDA TODAY)

More: Melbourne police investigate after residents find unidentified man dead in home

More: Melbourne man charged with first-degree murder after death of Joshua Elzas

“This 2007 foreclosure needs to move forward. (The judge) needs to move forward with the judicial sale. We need to get this property into the hands of someone that will actually take care of the property — and stop these criminal elements that are going on there,” Dawley told council members.

“And then, of course, we’ll be reaching out to the mortgage company. Every activity that happens there, frankly, devalues their asset. So they have an interest. I don’t know if they know the full scope of what’s been happening at this particular property,” she said.

“But it started going downhill particularly fast in 2018 — and now it’s just racing toward the bottom,” she said.

In 2018, Dawley said a woman died after overdosing on drugs on the property.

Then, in April 2020, Christopher Kane, a 26-year-old from Grant-Valkaria, beat a man with a crowbar and fatally shot him inside the home, according to a Melbourne police arrest warrant.

The victim was Joshua Elzas, 28.

Kane has pleaded not guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. He was released from jail on $250,000 bond, and a docket sounding is scheduled for Sept. 1 at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.

“I’m just shocked at how the system has slowed and stalled,” Alfrey said of the Garfield Street foreclosure process during Tuesday’s meeting.

“Hopefully, we can do more of these. And we can clean up our city and let our residents know they don’t have to be terrorized by criminal behavior and squatters,” Alfrey said.

In July, the City Council authorized Dawley to file a code enforcement-based court complaint stemming from a graffiti-marred house at 653 Old Oak St. in Eau Gallie.

Melbourne police received 165 calls for service from 2014 to 2018 at that property, which was occupied by trespassers and vagrants — creating “an environment of public disturbances, lawlessness and fear for surrounding neighbors,” the complaint said.

The Old Oak Street case remains pending in court.

Rick Neale is the South Brevard Watchdog Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or rneale@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @RickNeale1. To subscribe: https://cm.floridatoday.com/specialoffer/

Read or Share this story: https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2021/06/10/eau-gallie-zombie-house-where-man-killed-faces-melbourne-city-hall-crackdown/7633483002/



Source Google News

About The Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *