WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KDVR) — A Westminster neighborhood fears its summer of peace may soon end now that a violent hoarder is due to be released from the Adams County jail.
William Prouty is set to be freed on Aug. 16 after serving 69 days of a 105-day sentence, cut short by “good time.” The 55-year-old has a lengthy criminal history and has been in custody since June 8 after entering a guilty plea for domestic violence battery and probation violations.
Neighbors of Prouty have seen a lot more of him than they ever wanted thanks to an army of surveillance cameras they keep for their own protection.
Violence, break-ins, harassment
Videos reviewed by the Problem Solvers show Prouty dancing in the middle of the street without a shirt, which is harmless compared to the videos of him punching and hitting a woman in his backyard and chasing her down the street on a different day after threatening to kill her.
“We have three Ring cameras set up and six other cameras set up,” said Billy Schlenker, who installed the cameras for his grandfather after years of harassment from Prouty, his next-door neighbor. That includes tossing a shovel full of snow into his grandfather’s face and rear-ending his grandfather’s parked car on purpose.
“He’s the neighbor from super hell! That’s what I would describe him as. If it was up to me, I would not want my grandfather to live by him,” said Schlenker, whose grandfather has lived on the southern side of Prouty’s house for more than 25 years.
David O’Hara Jr. lives on the northern side of Prouty’s house and told the Problem Solvers that Prouty tried to break into his car and his house in May of 2021.
Prouty was charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief for that incident.
“My daughter is 8 years old and she doesn’t play outside as much as any kid should be doing,” O’Hara said. “She woke up when he broke into our house,” he added.
O’Hara said the neighborhood has been terrorized by a hoarder, whose code violations date back to 2005, according to the city’s code enforcement director.
Fire fear grows after nearby house explosion
When the Problem Solvers visited 4245 Barr Lane in early June, the front and back yards were a massive collection of junk that included propane tanks that make the neighbors very nervous.
“It’s really scary because if any of that stuff catches on fire, it’s going to be a nightmare on this block,” Schlenker said.
The fear of fire became all too real after neighbors saw a Problem Solvers story about a nearby house explosion that killed one man in February. The explosion was because of propane tanks used by a long-time hoarder whose code violations at 7731 N. Knox Court dated back to 2009.
“I felt when that house blew up. It woke me up out of my bed, and I’m 10-15 blocks away from that house and he’s (William Prouty) right here. I don’t want that happening,” O’Hara said.
Prouty has racked up $2,648 in city code citations that he’s never paid.
Minutes before he pleaded guilty to municipal violations on June 8, he told the Problem Solvers, “I’m a good neighbor. We have a beautiful property, I am a native Coloradan and we will take care of the property and it will be beautiful. There are flowers and landscaping.”
A week later on June 15, Prouty’s father hired a cleanup crew to haul away all the junk. But neighbors fear it may only be temporary.
“Especially because this happened five years ago and his family did clean it up. It wasn’t this bad as you’re seeing it back here,” said O’Hara, who fears the yard trash could get bad again based on past history.
“Definitely a drop on the ball by the city of Westminster to help the community and the neighborhood to make sure our families are safe and that we don’t have to put with something like this,” O’Hara said.
Neighbors fear revenge after release from jail
Schlenker said he doesn’t just fear the trash will return, he fears Prouty’s volatile and confrontational behavior will as well.
“I think he’s going to come back and try to get revenge on all of us just because we got him in jail,” Schlenker said.
One neighborhood couple is so fearful of Prouty, they refused to go on camera, but they emailed the Problem Solvers the following statement:
“Our objective here is not to criminalize Mr. Prouty but to eliminate the embarrassing and potentially dangerous situation he poses to everyone in our neighborhood and our visitors. His behavior is irregular and hazardous to all of us and we have been incredibly patient with both the city and law enforcement. Our hope is that if you brought some more attention to the issue it may kick the city in the pants to take some action, not just in our case but many like it.”Neighbors of William Prouty
A spokesman for Westminster told the Problem Solvers the city was prepared for abatement in July to clean up the property but dropped its last legal case against Prouty after his family had all the trash and junk removed in mid-June.
Earlier this week, on Monday, Aug. 8, Prouty pleaded guilty to four different cases at once: criminal mischief, reckless driving, domestic violence assault and a noise violation.
Yet none of those guilty pleas added to his current jail time from his June 8 sentencing in municipal court. Instead, Adams County prosecutors agreed to a plea deal that allowed Prouty’s jail time to be served concurrently with the time he’s already serving in the Adams County Detention Facility, so he will still be released on Aug. 16.