Monday, March 9, 2009
Help Me Howard: Mentally Ill Neighbor
A South Florida couple moved into an adult community for some peace and quiet, but they're getting just the opposite. They're saying their next door neighbor is mentally ill, and she's driving them crazy. At their wit's end, the couple called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Mike and Mary Kay moved into this 55 and older Tamarac community they quickly noticed two things. The first...
Mike Barzano: "I think we're the youngest couple that lives here. They call us the kids in the neighborhood."
The second, their next door neighbor.
Mike Barzano: "We have a lady next door that has a mental problem. She actually has a mental illness."
In the beginning, they reached out to help her.
Mike Barzano: "I would cook dinners and take food over to her."
Today they try to avoid her.
Mike Barzano: "She has many different voices, many different voices, a man's voice. I think Mary Kay counted seven at one point."
The woman is fascinated by water.
Mike Barzano: "She waters our house constantly. She waters the neighbors on the other side's house."
That's the way it started, then it got worse.
Mike Barzano: "She's turned the garden hose into our bedroom window and soaked us in the middle of the night."
That time Broward Sheriff's deputies Baker Acted her, but three days later, she was out, and on her bad nights roaming around.
Mike Barzano: "She keeps us up for days screaming. She keeps a lot of the neighbors up screaming and yelling. The music is real loud."
During her all-night rants, she calls the Barzanos. The messages are not nice.
Mike Barzano: "No matter what I do, they're banging on my front door. Michael, I'm not responsible for your ---- wife. I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. Micheal, you go get your wife. How dare you! How dare you let her?"
Occasionally, the 62-year-old runs around the neighborhood without her clothes on.
Mike Barzano: "They've taken her out of the front yard naked."
She has even attacked Mary Kay.
Mary Kay Barzano: "She ran out in front of the car, and the car went on it's nose. I slammed on the brakes. She ran around to the side of the car and grabbed me.
Mike Barzano: "She's going to kill somebody or kill herself."
Mike has called DCF to complain. They couldn't do anything. Broward Sheriff's deputies have been out so often they know the woman by name.
Mary Kay Barzano: "I said I wanted a restraining order, and they couldn't do that because she's crazy, and there's no law against being crazy in the state of Florida."
Clearly the Barzanos are victims here, and so is their neighbor, but can they do anything about her behavior destroying their lives, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Beyond what they have done, there is little the Barzanos can do. In the past, you could put people in state institutions, but the funding for that has all dried up, and there is a law passed by the legislature to help people like this, but they did not allocate any money for the help, so that is a dead end."
When I spoke to Broward Sheriff's officials, they were well aware of the troubled woman. This summary shows they have been to her house 11 times. They have Baker-Acted her three times. An official told me, "We think putting her in a mental health facility for a few days is better than arresting her." I spoke to her daughter in California, she said she had contacted every county agency. No one will do anything, and she has no idea what to do.
But, Mike and Mary Kay say what about their rights.
Mike Barzano: "It appears she has all the rights, and we have no rights. We have no axe to grind for this poor woman. She needs help."
But how can this be resolved, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "I don't know that it will get resolved. Unfortunately, it usually ends with the mentally ill person dead, in prison or out on the street. This is horrible for the neighbors or the sick woman."
And as mental health experts will tell you, the woman is getting worse. Neighbors says she was spraying her car engine while it was running and burned herself. Mary Kay says, this weekend the woman threatened to kill her. Broward Sheriff's deputies were called. They said there was nothing they could do. Stories with mentally ill people don't end well.
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