Grapevine arrests 64-year-old squatter for criminal mischief

GRAPEVINE _ A 64-year-old man has been arrested in the first criminal case involving a squatter in Northeast Tarrant County.

Billie V. Henderson has been formally charged with criminal mischief for attempting to take possession of a Grapevine home on Dove Circle, according to a spokeswoman with the Tarrant County District Attorney's office."He went over there and had a locksmith come out and meet him there and change the locks,'' Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling said.

A neighbor who knew the homeowner alerted the police after Henderson had the locks changed, Eberling said. The homeowner was out of town on a business trip, police said.

Henderson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The supposed squatter told Grapevine police that he had identified the home by surfing the website of the Tarrant Appraisal District.

"In his mind, he determined that if they are owned by a financial institution, they are under foreclosure, which this house was not,'' Eberling said.

Grapevine police are working closely with Coppell law enforcement on the case, he said. Henderson apparently also did the same thing to a home in Coppell, Eberling said.

An investigation is pending, he said.

Since November, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon has formally charged eight people with felony burglary of a habitation in connection with fraudulent affidavits filed with the county clerk's office by squatters. The affidavits of adverse possession stated that the individuals had claimed property that had been abandoned. If an owner doesn't contest the claim for a period of years, and the squatter provides upkeep and pays taxes, the squatter may eventually gain legal title to the property.

Henderson did not file a fraudulent affidavit, Eberling said. Police thought the criminal mischief charge was more appropriate in the case, he said.

"His MO was just to look at the (appraisal district's) website and find homes,'' Eberling said.

Yamil Berard