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Corning squatter house busted, condemned
A bathtub full of feces and other hazardous conditions led officials to declare the residence where a squatter was staying to be unsafe to occupy.
The declaration on Thursday came on the heels of Tehama Interagency Drug Enforcement agents serving a search warrant at the Colusa Street residence around 7 a.m.
After announcing themselves and deploying a flash device, agents entered the home and began their search.
Agency Cmdr. Dave Kain said Sara Beck, 40, was found inside the residence was arrested on suspicion of maintaining a residence for the use and sales of controlled substances.
She was booked into Tehama County Jail.
Another person who lived at the home, Katherine Colston, 32, was found at the residence of her boyfriend, Ryan Griffin, 29, on the 1900 block of McKinley Avenue in Corning, Kain said.
Agents said they found Colston to be in possession of 31.8 grams of crystal methamphetamine and digital scales. In her bedroom at the Colusa Street home, they reported locating packaging materials and brass knuckles.
Colston was arrested and booked into the Tehama County Jail on suspicion of methamphetamine for sale, possession of brass knuckles, being a prohibited person in possession of ammunition and a misdemeanor for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Griffin, who is on active parole and was issued a no contact order with Colston, was arrested and booked into the jail on parole violation, Kain reported.
Corning Fire Chief Martin Spannaus said he was called to the Colusa Street home when drug enforcement agents located a container of mercury hidden beneath floor boards.
"We safely removed the plastic container holding 8 ounces of mercury," Spannaus said. "The Fire Department disposed of the mercury at the Tehama County Landfill hazardous materials disposal site."
Authorities said they do not know at this time why Beck was in possession of the poisonous substance.
Beck moved into the unoccupied house about nine months ago with her 11-year-old daughter. She believed the home to be abandoned and said she paid part of the property taxes due on the residence, giving her the right to move into the three-bedroom structure under adverse possession.
In October, Beck petitioned the Corning for water services and was denied. City officials took the water meter off the house.
In December, City Manager John Brewer said a community service officer was reading water meters on Colusa Street when he noticed that Beck had reconnected the water service to the house.
"We went to check and found that someone had illegally plumbed in a connection from the city water lines to the house with conduit and hose clamps. Corning police were on site when we checked the line," Brewer said.
City workers disconnected the illegal connection, then placed a large, heavy metal plate over the water connection. The house was owned by Jim and Joan Parker. Both died years ago, and the house has been vacant since.
City Attorney Jody Burgess said Beck had no legal claim to the residence and state law requirements of adverse possession includes occupying the residence for five years, paying all taxes on the property and filing a legal claim in court and receiving a court judgment.
"She has not met any of these requirements," Burgess said.
On Dec. 5, Corning police cited Beck for stealing water from the city.
In the meantime, the Parker's daughter, who lives in Southern California, is working with lawyers to clear her parents' probate and take legal ownership of the property, Brewer said.
However, with the house now declared as unfit for occupancy, Beck will not be allowed back inside under any circumstances.
Throughout the day on Thursday, a Public Works crew boarded up all the doors and windows on the house.
"We don't know exactly what will happen to the house at this point," Spannaus said.