A New York homeowner came home to an empty lot after her husband tore down their suburban area home while she was away. Diane Andryshak’s single family home which she shared with her husband for the last nine years was gone with nothing left standing, except the mailbox. The house, which was located in Middletown, New York, was 840 square feet with three bedrooms; it was purchased for $160,000 in 2005.
On Monday, Diane’s husband, James Rhein, went to request a permit to destroy the home but due to Martin Luther King Day the office was closed. So he rented an excavator and bulldozed the home to the ground. According to police, he was arrested on a felony charge of criminal mischief. James was later released on $300 bail. Diane said she does not know what happened and is still in shock. She stated:
When I got here he was already down at the police station. I do not know anything. We were not fighting, we were not arguing. Everything was in the house; none of my belongings were removed.
The couple was in the process of renovating their home when, allegedly, James told the investigators the place could not be repaired because it was in a state of disarray. He claimed the house was in shambles for years and decided to take the matter into his own hands.
Steve Belfiglio, a neighbor, said he jokingly asked James if he was going to tear the house down with a bulldozer and he replied, “Yeah.” Belfiglio said he thought the man was kidding and went on to work. When he returned he could not believe what he found…an empty lot. The 48-year-old man had destroyed the ranch style home which used to stand at 11 Woodland Avenue.
Law enforcement was notified about the demolition but when they arrived the man had finished the job and was depositing the debris into dumpsters. Although no one was injured during the incident this could have ended horribly. None of the utilities in the home were turned off, thankfully a gas line was not hit which could have resulted in several tragedies. The utility companies had to be notified and make haste to restore electricity, gas and water for remaining residents for “accidental” termination of utilities.
Authorities said additional charges may be pending for the man. It was extremely dangerous for him to take such action into his own hands, not to mention the house was not legally his. The deed of the property is in his wife’s name. Admittedly Rhein did not know what he was doing, but did not believe he was doing anything wrong. He said his wife was very angry when she returned but is over it now and they are good. He added:
I am a good husband, what can I tell you?
Unfortunately James and Diane are now homeless but said they have family and friends. They no longer have their ranch styled home located in Middletown, New York, but at this time still have each other. James was released on bail and will return to court in Middletown on January 30.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)