Neighbors call woman ‘professional squatter’ after moving into half-million-dollar home


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — A woman is behind bars, accused of stealing a half-million-dollar home in an Albuquerque neighborhood after the homeowners died.

35-year-old Lucia Ruiz and others were caught living in a home she didn’t own or rent as “professional squatters.”

“There’s definitely people who do not belong in there,” said a neighbor who wants to remain anonymous. “Presenting false documents whatever they could to stay inside that house or to throw people off.”

Neighbors said people have been in and out of this house for months after the owners died.

Documents reveal Ruiz, a convicted felon, even listed the home as her address for probation.

When she violated her probation about a week ago, officers paid her a visit and that’s when neighbors told police Ruiz and the others inside were not allowed to be there.

Documents said Ruiz showed officers a ‘lease agreement’ which said she was renting the property from the former owner’s daughter, whose signature was on the paper as well as pulling out a Quick Claim Deed transferring ownership of the house to Ruiz.

Investigators found that Ruiz filed that deed with the county and the fraudulent document showed the owners signed over the half-million-dollar house to Ruiz for just one dollar.

“They definitely seem to be dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s,” said another anonymous neighbor.

However, the daughter of the former owners told investigators it’s all a lie. She stated she did not sign any rental or deed agreement with anyone and that no one had permission to live inside the home.

Neighbors said this is just the start of what’s been going on at the home.

Surveillance video captured by neighbors played someone screaming “help” on the night of July 31, running out of the problem house. “I can’t breathe,” said one person on the surveillance video. “I understand that bro,” said another person on the surveillance video.

It’s unclear who is speaking in the video but that next morning, neighbors found 34-year-old Samuel Hernandez’s body just a hundred feet from that home.

“This is not just a homeless element, but there is definitely a criminal element that’s going on, it’s palpable,” said a neighbor. “You can sense what’s going on over there is not kosher at all.”

Neighbors said they’re now looking into hiring their own private security to patrol the area.

Ruiz, who also goes by Lucia Candelaria and Lucia Martinez, has a criminal history that includes car theft and shoplifting. She is charged with forgery and fraud in this case. Police are still investigating Hernandez’s death.

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