SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake man faces several charges accusing him of breaking into a home and changing the locks on the doors after the owner refused to sell him the house for $90,000.
Andrew Blackwell, 25, was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with burglary and forgery, both third-degree felonies. He was also charged with stalking, a class A misdemeanor, and theft, a class B misdemeanor, among other charges.
The bizarre series of events began on Aug. 30, when police were called to a home in the Ballpark neighborhood after learning there was a “belligerent person” in the home, and that the person was taking things from the residence, the charges state. The officer got there and found Blackwell, police said, and told him not to return.
The next day, another officer responded to the same home after receiving a call that a man had broken in. Upon arriving, the officer saw a front window open and tools on the front porch, police said.
The officer then spoke to Blackwell, who told the officer he had been “working on the yard” and “had opened the window to allow the house to ventilate,” police wrote in the charges. Blackwell allegedly told the officer he did not have permission to be in the house.
On Sept. 11, another officer responded to a possible burglary at the same home. There, the officer found Blackwell, who said he’d cut down trees, shrubs and bushes on the property, the charges state. Blackwell told the officer he’d written a letter to the homeowner, an elderly woman, stating that he wanted to buy the home for $90,000, according to court documents.
When the woman hadn’t responded to Blackwell, he told police he went to her home at another address, the charges state. In person, the woman said she told Blackwell she would not sell the home to him for that price.
Real estate database Zillow estimates the value of the residence at about $250,000.
The woman told investigators that Blackwell was threatening to her during that visit, the charges state, and told her he would “forge any document” necessary to get the home from her. After Blackwell’s visits to the home, the woman’s keys no longer worked there, police said.
On Sept. 11, the officer “noticed that there was a broken window on the home, that the home had been completely cleared of property, that there was a refrigerator lying on the front porch, and new deadbolts on three external doors,” police wrote.
Blackwell allegedly told the officer he’d taken the refrigerator out. In an email to the officer, Blackwell also said he’d locked the gate of the home with his own chain and lock, and planned to return to remove more plants “just as long as it builds my case to gaining title to the house,” the charges state. He also told the officer he’d removed the contents of the house — and asked the officer to help him get the water going, court documents say.
On Sept. 24, the homeowner told police that Blackwell had a truckload of wood chips delivered to the home. She also contacted Rocky Mountain Power about the home’s electricity, but said the company wouldn’t give her information about who was controlling the electricity.
Blackwell allegedly told another neighbor he’d created a business titled with the home’s address, and had set up electricity through the business, police wrote. He showed that same neighbor a collection of CDs, which he said he took from the elderly woman’s property, according to the charges.
Blackwell allegedly told neighbors he bought the house for $5,000, police said.
He was also charged with three counts of criminal trespass after notice, and criminal mischief, all class B misdemeanors.
A warrant for Blackwell’s arrest was issued Friday.