Battle over bed bugs in Newark

July 14, 2010 2:44:29 PM PDT
A Newark, NJ couple says they're being eaten alive in their own home and that they have the injuries to prove it.

They live in a "New Community Corporation" building at 1 South Eighth Street.

People stare at the Priscilla and Ernest Barnes because of their horrific scars. They claim that the scars are from the bugs. However, the management of the building they live in says there are no bugs.

"It's painful. We spray. The bedbugs keep coming," said Priscilla Parker Barnes. She continued, "I have holes in my hands. They had to cut off all my hair."

The Barnes went to Legal Aide to plead for help, and new housing. They dreaded having to go back home.

The Barnes say their 5th floor unit is infested with bedbugs.

"They get in one apartment and they go through the whole building," said Allison Oglesby, a Newark resident.

On its website, New Community says it oversees 3 thousand housing units, home to 7,000 tenants, most of whom reside in Newark. Judith Mills recently moved into the same building.

"I've been here for 3 months, I don't have no bedbugs," she said.

The management disagrees that the lesions all over the Barnes' are from bedbugs. They say their apartment, number 503, is and has been bedbug free.

"I have not been into their apartment. I had Western Pest control inspected the apartment several times. [They] furnished documentation that she does not have bedbugs," said Wayne Gravesend, The New Community Director of Environmental Services.

He also presented the exterminator's note, which said no bedbugs were in their apartment.

"We know there's no problems, but we sprayed anyway," Gravesend said.

The couple says the spraying lasted just a few minutes and did nothing.

The Barnes kept their own records to prove the bed bugs. Their proof includes the bugs themselves, bags of bloody napkins and gauze, and tape with bed bugs still stuck all over. The Barnes say that unfortunately it is no enough proof because no one here believes them.