Three days after 47-year-old Sandra Roskilly was shot to death on her front porch in Denver, Colorado, the city’s Housing Authority evicted her mother and son from the home they shared with Roskilly. City officials said that the eviction occurred because Roskilly’s name was the only one on the lease.
Roskilly was murdered last Friday by 31-year-old Daniel Abyeta, a neighbor who also shot a second woman and tried to detonate a propane canister in the street before being incapacitated by a police sniper. Abyeta is currently hospitalized and facing a first-degree murder charge. Local police believe that Roskilly was an innocent bystander.
Because Roskilly was living in subsidized housing and was the legal head of household, the Denver Housing Authority said it was forced to evict her 70-year-old mother, Doris Kessler, and her severely autistic, 18-year-old son. Since Roskilly did not have a will at the time of her death, her personal belongings were also taken from the home and are now legally the property of a public administrator.
Kessler and Roskilly’s son were given six hours to vacate the premises and were not allowed to take any furniture or any of Roskilly’s personal belongings with them. Kessler is currently sleeping on the couch at one of her other children’s homes, and Roskilly’s son is being housed at a facility in Pueblo.
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“She’s been living here 10 years and now they’re telling her she’s just a visitor and she has no rights whatsoever,” said Dennis Campbell, Roskilly’s brother. “Everything [Kessler’s] going to have left of my sister are in that home.”
Federal housing officials condemned the Denver Housing Authority for the lack of compassion shown towards Roskilly’s family. Jerry Brown, a spokesman for Housing and Urban Development, says that he hopes the Housing Authority will reconsider the eviction.
“Our rules and guidelines are just that, and we would hope people would use compassion,” Brown said. “They have discretion, which is why the city has a board to administer it. There was no notification on our end of an eviction, and we didn’t have a say in it.”