Years after Wife's Murder, Coloma Benefactor Moves to Evict 97-year-old resident

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 26, 2016 / comments

[97-year-old Marie Hatch, who has cancer, was served with a 60-day notice this month to vacate the Craftsman cottage she has lived in for 66 years. In 1950, Hatch was given a verbal agreement, which was passed down through generations of ownership, that she could live in the cottage for the rest of her life. Photo: Adela Meadows, Special To The Chronicle]

The year Marie Hatch moved into the wood-shingled cottage in tony Burlingame that she calls home, Harry Truman was president and “Goodnight Irene” was a radio hit. Her landlord and friend, Vivian Kruse, told her she could live in the cottage until she died.

Fast-forward 66 years. Kruse is dead, her daughter is dead, and her granddaughter is dead. They each passed down the lifetime guarantee of tenancy for Hatch — but when the final woman died, so did the verbal agreement, the current landlord says.

That’s why he is evicting Hatch, who is now 97, fighting cancer and long both single and retired from her bakery job. She says she will probably wind up in the street if she has to leave.

On Feb. 11, she was served with a 60-day notice to vacate the house or be tossed out by sheriff’s deputies. Tenant advocates say her plight is emblematic of a growing eviction and rent-hike horror overtaking non-homeowners in San Mateo County.

“They’re trying to take away everything from me here,” Hatch said as she sat in her tidy living room, where fading photos of family gaze down on her collections of tiny ceramic bunnies and kitties. “Gee whiz, I don’t know what I’ll do if I have to leave.

“I have a lot of tears, a lot of happiness, a lot of memories in this house. It is my home. Where can I go?”

Roommates’ uncertainty

Her misery has very close company — her sublet roommate and friend of 32 years, Georgia Rothrock. At 85, Rothrock also has few options. Between the two of them, they pay about $900 monthly rent, which chews up much of their Social Security checks.

Neither of the women can afford a new, more expensive place to live or have relatives they can move in with.

Landlord David Kantz tells his own version of the turn of events. He says he feels terrible that he is evicting Hatch, but the trust left behind by his wife — the third of the previous landlord women who are now deceased — expires in July, and he is duty-bound to sell the property on behalf of his two sons.

Previous landlord slain

He became the current landlord, he pointed out, when his wife was slain in 2006. The Kantzes were getting divorced when Pamela Kantz, 55, was killed by her boyfriend, Tony McClung, who is serving an 11-year prison term for voluntary manslaughter.

“We have come to this unexpected confluence of events, and I am responsible to do the best I can for the beneficiaries — my sons,” said Kantz, who lives in the Sierra foothills town of Coloma (El Dorado County). “I just kind of inherited this property and the assumptions that weren’t really written down, and now I have to unwind it.”

He said family lore does indeed contend that his wife’s grandmother, Vivian Kruse, told Hatch she could stay for life, “but there’s no contract. There’s nothing in my wife’s will that directs me to do anything other than what is best for the beneficiaries.”

And “best,” he said, is not hard to determine, at least monetarily. The little century-old house that was bought for a few thousand dollars by his wife’s ancestors is currently listed on the Zillow real estate website at $1.2 million.

“I didn’t want to say, ‘We’re going to just throw you out,’ but I thought I would give her plenty of notice,” said Kantz, who sent his first letter of eviction intention in early December. “There is no one part of this whole thing I don’t feel bad about.
“I feel bad for the elderly lady, I feel bad for my sons, I feel bad for me.”...

Meanwhile, Hatch’s neighbor — also being evicted by Kantz, since he owns her home and wants to sell it — has joined with Cornell’s group to help the woman and her roommate fight the eviction.

Legal help

Cheryl Graczewski, a 43-year-old education policy researcher, connected Hatch and Rothrock with a Legal Aid attorney on Friday. She said she and her tech-worker husband are fortunate enough to be able to pay higher rent at the place they are moving to in March. “But for Marie, it’s different,” she said.

“Marie has no money, really, and no real choices,” Graczewski said. “I don’t see her moving out of the house and surviving. It would break her heart.”

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In October 2010, Tony McClung pleaded no contest to the death of a Shingle Springs woman Pamela Kantz was sentenced to the maximum prison term.

Tony Harvey McClung, 39, was initially charged with the 2006 first-degree murder of Pamela Kantz, 55, but pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter on Oct. 14. On Monday, McClung was sentenced to 11 years in prison by El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Daniel B. Proud.

Kantz’s decomposing body was discovered in a plastic bag by authorities on Sept. 2, 2006 in the Shingle Springs home she shared with McClung. McClung and another male were found at the scene, but it was McClung who was arrested on suspicion of murder.

He reportedly told authorities that Kantz had choked on a hamburger in the shower. Experts believe Kantz had been dead for nearly one week before her body was found.

Half of the courtroom was occupied by Kantz’s family and friends. David Kantz, the victim’s husband, was given the opportunity to address the court before McClung was taken into custody.

In his address, David Kantz said his wife, suffering from diminished mental health, was “skillfully exploited” by McClung... McClung kept Pamela Kantz from seeing her family and used her trust to take thousands of dollars from her bank account, according to David Kantz...

Read more HERE