Neighbors From Hell: What You Can Do to Stop the Bullies Next Door

With its 39 miles of coastline, its freshwater beaches and its lush, Southern New England landscape, life in the peaceful town of Warwick, R.I., might seem to be nothing short of heavenly. But it's turned out to be hell for Craig Fontaine and Kathleen Melker.

It's not that the couple doesn't live well in their cozy, two-bedroom waterfront home on Warwick Cove. The problem is their "nightmare neighbors," Lynne Taylor and Christopher Levasseur, whom Fontaine and Melker say have been harassing and attacking them for more than a year -- and in very odd ways.

According to police reports filed by Fontaine and Melker (pictured at left), Taylor and Levasseur shot at the couple's home and damaged their car and kayak with an air pellet gun in August and September 2011. Another police report claims that Taylor tried to kill their cat by trapping it in a vehicle on an extremely hot day. (Fontaine and Melker videotaped the cat incident and posted it on YouTube.)

But the most bizarre complaint alleges that Taylor flipped them the bird -- literally. The report claims Taylor trained her pet cockatoo to repeatedly scream obscenities at Melker and Fontaine.

"For over sixteen hours a day, the cockatoo will scream 'f--king whore!' [Taylor will] also have the bird scream 'f--k you!' to Craig and his friends," Melker, an 18-year veteran paramedic and safety dispatcher, told AOL Real Estate. "It's disturbing and makes our whole lives absolutely hell." (Fontaine and Melker also videotaped an incident with the bird and posted it on YouTube.)

Melker even alleged that Taylor and Levasseur painted an image of a cockatoo on the side of their own house (pictured at top) to mock them. Fontaine and Melker have filed more than thirty police reports against their neighbors, the latest recorded on July 31.

Although the couple was granted a restraining order against Taylor and Levasseur on Jan. 13, they said the harassment won't stop. Recently, police refused to arrest Taylor for violating the restraining order because it was technically "the bird screaming obscenities, not her," Melker said.

Taylor herself has filed police reports against Melker and Fontaine for "antagonizing her bird," according to a spokesperson for the Warwick Police Department. When contacted by AOL Real Estate, Taylor declined to comment on the matter, and her lawyer did not return repeated calls for comment.

A Common Problem?

Fontaine and Melker are certainly not alone in having messy disputes with neighbors. Some around the country have even turned fatal. Last month, a long-standing feud between a couple and their neighbor in Hawaii ended in an attempted murder and suicide. In June, a confrontation over loud music led a Texas man to kill his neighbor. And in February, a heated altercation over dog waste led a Philadelphia man to shoot his neighbor dead.

Thankfully, though, a case similar to Fontaine and Melker's earlier this year had a less tragic outcome. In June, Kim and Greg Hoffman (pictured at right) of White Bear Lake, Minn., had a restraining order issued against their neighbor, Lori Christensen, after claiming she yelled obscenities, made lewd gestures and repeatedly "terrorized" the Hoffman family. Upon violation of that order, Christensen was forced to serve a prison sentence and promised in court to sell her home and "never return to the neighborhood."

Fontaine and Melker said that they have given up hope for a similar outcome, and instead, they just want to sell their home and leave. The couple put their 6,610-square-foot home (pictured below left) on the market in July and are hoping to sell soon.
But not if Taylor can help it, they said. They're convinced that, since the for-sale sign was erected in their front yard, Taylor is trying to prevent them from moving.

"She painted a hideous bird on the side of [her] house to ward off buyers," Melker said. "It's an eyesore! She's driven us out, but now we can't leave."

The couple also claimed that Taylor will stand on the street in front of their home during viewing appointments and openly film potential buyers and guests.

"The home's appraiser came and said that she filmed him," Fontaine and Melker's listing agent, who didn't want to be named, told AOL Real Estate. "It's a little crazy, and it's an invasion of privacy. It's not so much the painting -- I'm worried that all of it will affect potential buyers."

How to Protect Yourself Against Neighbors from Hell

If you find yourself in a position where a neighbor is actively trying to prevent the sale of your home, you may have grounds to sue, said real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, owner of the eponymous Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. law firm. In this particular case, Fontaine and Melker could take Taylor to court for interfering with contractual relations, if all other alternatives, such as mediation, have been unsuccessful or exhausted.

"You may have a case if you can prove that it's intentional," Bailey said. "You have to prove that the neighbor is behaving this way with the intent of trying to break up or prevent a contractual relation -- that is, preventing them [from entering] into a contract to sell the home."

In the case of general harassment, experts say it's always best to try mediation before litigation. Attempt to talk with the offending neighbor, or seek a third-party mediator through the National Association For Community Mediation. NAFCM has more than 200 centers nationwide with mediators trained in resolving neighbor disputes, and the organization will offer their services for free or at reduced costs.

Also, if you are part of a condo or homeowner's association, it can confront the neighbor on your behalf; if that proves unsuccessful, such associations may restrict privileges or impose fines on the neighbor. (That can potentially lead to a lien being put on the neighbor's property if the fines go unpaid).

But should it come to the worst-case scenario, Melker offered this advice: "Do not be afraid to go to court. Judges are people, too, and they have bad neighbors."

"You have done nothing wrong," Melker added. "You have neighbors from hell, and they come in all kinds -- even the feathered kind."

See more:
New York Man Angers Neighbors by Telling People to Throw Paint at His House
'Neighbor from Hell' Goes to Jail After Harassing Minnesota Family
Home Sellers: Keep Bad Neighbors From Derailing Your Sale

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Hi Harmonium,

Sorry to hear what you are going through! Stay strong and do not live in fear OK. In my opinion, if the police cannot help you, then try the FBI. Sue the bastard if you have too. I have been stalking by some sickle heads too, but I scared them all away. Have you heard this statement, "problem is a part of life" before? Yeah that is life. Problem will never go away until you do something about it. Sometimes(nighttime) I was being harassed by some neighbors too (both men and women). I know they will never stop harassing me because they seem to enjoy it (their strait, their style, their joy). They simply making noise in their parking lot (next to where I was in my house) such turning the lousy rap music or laughing so hard just make sure I got panic and awoke, then they quickly running into their house (this made me think of a rat hiding in a hold nearby). One time I thought that I was about to die (I felt a great pain in my chest and couldn't breath for a short period of time). I was shaking and counting my heart beat. I do not think the bullies have this knowledge about killing people that way (they are just non-schooled people). Oh one of them (or two) even married military guys, isn't that something so wrong here? Anyway, I used to cry and feel sorry for me and even prayed to God to remove the evil humans, but then I realized that there is nowhere for them to go anyway. So, I made a plan to leave (still planning). each time they messed with me, I cursed them back (it worked miracle) and kept a journal (evidence - just for incase so they could never get away). Since I learn about the bullies, I know their cycle and get used to the noise and I trained myself to be strong (by meditation and constantly telling myself that these bullies are drunk and no harmful because thinking this way will comfort myself and encourage myself to keep trying hard until I make myself out of here), I feel stronger. I never see them at a problem but something is not worth focused on."Love your neighbors as yourself," have you heard this before (from the Bible or any preacher)? No way! How do you love such an evil humans anyway. So non sense and so hypocrite right? No one can.

Here is my advice to you. First, you must convince yourself that things will get better such" this too will pass." Next, try harder on your part to get out of that poor neighborhood. Do not focus on that crazy man and save your energy on something is worth doing. Hope you will be fine after all. Good luck!!

May 10 2015 at 4:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a woman on my own, widowed. Next door man bullies me for more than 3 years. He's got a warning arrest but still sometimes sneakily bullies me ( like banging to my walls screaming abuses, swearing etc..) Now he started lying to police that it's me the one who swears at him, abuses him and threatens . Mind he's got mental illness. Last time he started bullying me I called police once again, but police threw at me that it was me who bullied him. The mediation services only caused more damage to me as this was the reason for him to start bullying again. He said it was me who set the mediation services on him and therefore he did what he did. Though it was council who organized the mediation. He had not been explained properly about the mediations and as a result I was the one to be punished once again. I am left on my own now with no help and will think 100 times before complain to the authorities once again as police told me not to react to his bullies and if I do I will be arrested. What a humiliation. This is why murders happen between the neighbours, it's because they are left with no real help.

April 03 2015 at 7:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dominic Mancuso

I have documented, on video, our neighbors terrorizing us for 8 years so far. They want us to move because we are an openly gay couple. Here's our latest video:

Gays, Lies and Videotapes

I also have over thirty other videos including, harassment - a definition, Creepy Peeping neighbors, our whacky neighbors, homophobes harass gay neighbors and much much more.

January 23 2015 at 7:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Feng Shui Katy

In this age of bipolar and personality disorders, reality TV shows that reward bad behavior, the generation that feels entitlement not shame...I am unsurprised that this kind of thing goes on. Just like with the internet, new situations are cropping up that the laws have failed to keep up with. Good luck to the sellers, even more good luck to the buyers!

August 06 2014 at 10:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply