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  • KNWA & FOX24 - Northwest Arkansas & River Valley News

    Arkansas couple accused of googling instructions to claim ‘unoccupied’ home

    By Kyler Swaim,


    MAYSVILLE, Ark. ( KNWA/KFTA ) — An Arkansas couple is accused of living in an “unoccupied” home in Northwest Arkansas after googling how to claim it, according to court documents.

    Kelly DeShields, 54, and Matthew Villagran, 46, were arrested on June 5 on a residential burglary charge.

    On May 30, a deputy with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Maysville home on Highway 43 around 11:30 a.m. in reference to a trespassing investigation, according to a probable cause affidavit.

    The affidavit said the owner of the home was in a treatment facility and his caretaker was contacted by BCSO.

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    The caretaker said two people, later identified as Villagran and DeShields, were at the residence with him. He spoke with the homeowner who said no one should be there and he didn’t give anyone permission to be there.

    DeShields told authorities she heard the home had been unoccupied for years and “googled” how to become the property’s owner, according to the affidavit.

    “She found information on the internet that led her to believe she could obtain the property by paying the property taxes and maintaining the residence and land,” the document said.

    DeShields showed the deputy a receipt from the revenue office in Gravette showing she paid $162 in assessment fees for the homeowner’s property.

    When asked if anyone at the revenue officer told her she could occupy the property, she said no and was going off what she found online.

    A burn pile next to the garage appeared to contain the homeowner’s personal items such as documents and home decor, according to the affidavit.

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    Villagran spoke with the deputy and said he and DeShields, his girlfriend, had been staying at the home. He said DeShields told him about the steps needed to gain possession of the home.

    The caretaker told the deputy the homeowner was actively suffering from a heart attack due to the stress of worrying about strangers in his home.

    On May 31, the homeowner spoke with the deputy and said he did not recognize Villagran or Deshields.

    Villagran is being held in the Benton County Detention Center on a $15,000 bond and DeShields on a $25,000 bond. They have a court date set for July 15.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KNWA FOX24.

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