The Investigators: Queens phony deed scam victim gets back inside trashed home

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A Queens woman who had her family home stolen in a phony deed scam is finally back inside the house, but the condition it was left in made for anything but a happy reunion.

A city marshal armed with an eviction order broke the lock of Jennifer Merin's home in Laurelton Monday morning, a lock put there by squatters months ago.

Escorted by investigators from the sheriff's office, the 70-year-old Merin finally got back inside to see what was left behind. And the mess wasn't pretty.

"It feels like they've really trampled on the graves of my family," she said.

We first told you about Merin's plight back in the spring, when she'd discovered that the locks had been changed on the home that's been in her family for generations, years of treasures missing or dumped in the garage.

"It's like estate rape," she told us back then.

We discovered that a deed had been filed with the city by ex-con Darryl Beatty, who last month was charged with grand larceny and other felonies.

In spite of Beatty's arrest, Merin still had to go through housing court to boot out Beatty and members of his family. Early Monday, neighbors saw a moving truck there, hours before the marshal arrived to enforce the eviction.

There were remnants everywhere, a disgusting layer of trash and filth, as well as deliberate vandalism.

"It's completely desecrated," Merin said. "They've done things like pour bleach on the hardwood floors upstairs just to ruin them."

Priceless antiques are gone.

"There was a palace vase there," she said. "You can see the base of the dining table here. It was a large table...There were antiques that were going to a museum after my death. And it's a family legacy that was to give something to people to enjoy. Now, we can't do that."

No one knows where Darryl Beatty went in the middle of the night, but he does have to appear in court later this month in his criminal case. And sheriff's investigators are now trying to determine whether this case is part of a larger fraud ring.

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