THORNTON, Colo. — A family was kicked out of their own home after a stranger they say they tried to help filed a protection order and is allegedly squatting on their property.
“I just want to go home. I want to go home. I want my kids to be able to go home,” Sheryl Lopez-Tobin said.
“The police said you’re being served. You need to leave the property, and I went, what?”
It started as a good deed. Lopez-Tobin and her daughter, Amina Al-Sowaidi, live on Hudson Court in Thornton. In August, a mechanic doing work on their car was down on his luck and said he needed help.
“He told me he didn’t have anywhere to go. He was homeless,” Lopez-Tobin said.
The family offered to let him stay in an RV in their backyard for a few days.
But already on the first night, they say he tried to break in through the doggy door of the house and when he was asked to leave, they say he held up a weapon and made threats.
“He told me that people disappear all the time and that he could make us disappear and he wasn’t leaving,” Lopez-Tobin said.
The family called police and they arrested Brian Durst, who had an outstanding warrant.
But trouble for the Lopez-Tobin family was just beginning. Durst posted bond, went to court to file a restraining order on the family and produced a lease that says he rents the home.
“It was all fraud. He made up a fake lease,” Lopez-Tobin said.
Police told her the lease had her daughter’s signature on it. But daughter, Amina, said that is not true and believes he forged her signature.
According to court documents, Durst told the court Sheryl “punched me in the face and said my lease was terminated effective immediately.”
He also said “Sheryl continually tells me that her brother is coming to town to deal with me.”
The court granted a temporary protective order that states the family must stay 100 yards away from him and 50 yards away from his residence.
Because he listed the Lopez-Tobin’s address as his home address, the family was kicked out of the house.
“There was a knock at the door. My grandkids were sleeping. One is in a crib and the other ones is in a bed in her room and the police only gave us 15 minutes to leave,” Lopez-Tobin said.
The family, now displaced, has friends watching their home and says the suspect has been inside.
“He’s a felon. He’s going to rob us blind. I’m just scared to death. I don’t know,” Lopez-Tobin said.
Legal expert Phil Harding said with a temporary protective order, the court does not hear testimony from both sides. A temporary protective order is about establishing imminent danger.
“Then they’ll testify as to if there’s imminent danger. If so, the court almost always will grant this temporary order,” Harding said.
“Once that’s entered within 14 days, there has to be a hearing for the permanent order. That’s when both parties will present evidence to the court.”
In the meantime, the Lopez-Tobin family got its own protective order against Durst. Now neither party can legally enter the home.
Both sides will get to say their peace in front of a judge later this month, but until then, the family has nowhere to turn.
“A criminal can get your address, they can take possession of your home and have you evicted — right out from under you,” Lopez-Tobin said.
Durst has previous charges of forgery and theft.