Man threatened after reporting squatters in neighborhood

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A local man says he was threatened for reporting squatters in a neighboring home.

Kenneth Paynter looked out his front door to find a package on the porch. It's one he will not forget.

There was a dead bird beside it, a copy of the book 'Hannibal Rising,' pieces of a home security system, and a letter from a writer who dubbed him or herself Beast of the Street.

The letter was more of a manifesto, demanding that the neighbors get rid of their security patrol and their own home surveillance systems or risk "a category 5 incident."

Paynter and other neighbors in the Willow Meadows subdivision believe it was left by vagrants who'd been squatting at the vacant house next door.

"They kept getting in through a back fence that you could push over," Paynter said.

On May 25, two men were arrested at the house after neighbors saw them pushing a refrigerator out the front door and taking it to a waiting truck.

"Our security patrol, which is off-duty HPD officers, said one of them had a felony record, and a firearm was found in the house," Paynter said. "Mothers started taking their children for walks along the street again, thinking all this was over. Three days later, they were released from jail."

Paynter suspects the squatters are trying to return to the house they took over in secret.

"Are we going to be deactivating our home security? No. He's going to escalate in 24 hours? So what's going to happen in the next 24 hours or 48 hours?" he asked.

The neighborhood security patrol is aware of the incident, as is HPD. And the company that's flipping the house is aware as well. After a call from ABC13, the owner said foundation work had been done on the property.

"We'll send a crew over today," the company said. Within a couple of hours, construction workers were on the job.

That's welcome news for the neighbors, but there's still concern over the mysterious delivery and threat. Rather than dismantling security systems, as the letter demanded, some homeowners plan to upgrade their systems.

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