A Minnesota woman has been barred from her own home in a bizarre twist to a "Neighbor From Hell" story that is likely to attract national headlines.
A district judge in St. Paul, Minnesota, ordered Lori Christensen, 49, to stay at least one mile away from the home of Greg and Kim Hoffman, a couple Christensen has serially harassed over about five years. Christensen had been ordered last December to have no contact with the Hoffmans, but a judge found this week that she had violated the order. That led to the latest restriction, and since the Hoffmans live across the street, it means Christensen cannot go to her own home.
That order will be in place until Christensen appears again before Judge George Stephenson next Wednesday.
I've written extensively about my own experiences with a Neighbor From Hell (NFH)--a guy named Mike McGarity, who has an extensive criminal record and prompted a 12-year legal battle that caused my wife and me to be cheated out of our jobs.
I certainly have major empathy for the Hoffmans, who appear to be facing a neighbor with mental-health issues. But if I had to choose Lori Christensen or Mike McGarity as a neighbor, I would choose Christensen every time.
What did the Hoffmans do to incur Christensen's wrath? Not much of anything, it appears. Their mere existence, in a house across the street from Christensen's, seems to be the problem. The first signs of Christensen's displeasure came when she began cursing and taunting the Hoffmans about five years ago. Most recently, she videotaped the Hoffmans and made repeated phone calls over code violations they had allegedly committed. That came after she had been ordered to leave the Hoffmans alone.
Kim Hoffman was treated several years ago for alcoholism, and Christensen seems to take special delight in reminding her about that. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Last week, Christensen was charged with two counts of aggravated stalking in connection with the recent videotaping and phone calls. The incidents occurred after Christensen served time in the county correctional facility for violating a harassment restraining order obtained two years ago by the Hoffmans.
The two have accused Christensen of repeatedly taunting Kim Hoffman, a recovering alcoholic, with numerous signs that included a handwritten statement, "I saw mommy kissing a Breathalyzer."
Christensen's behavior has generated at least 80 calls to police in the past three years, Police Chief Lynne Bankes said last week.
No two "Neighbor From Hell" stories seem to be alike; each one takes on a life all its own. That means it's probably not wise to compare two such situations, but I will do it anyway. Given the utter hell that Mike McGarity has caused Mrs. Schnauzer and me, I simply cannot resist comparing him to other NFHs. How does McGarity stack up to Lori Christensen? Consider the following:
* We've seen no signs in news reports that Christensen ever intruded on the Hoffmans' property; McGarity repeatedly trespassed on our property and said, "I'm going to sue you for harassment" when I warned him to stay away.
* We've seen no signs in news reports that Christensen ever physically threatened the Hoffmans; McGarity committed a felony assault against me.
* We've seen no signs in news reports that Christensen initiated legal proceedings against the Hoffmans; McGarity filed a bogus lawsuit against me, and got a lawyer with a 30-year record of unethical behavior to do it.
The Lori Christensens of the world undoubtedly cause pain in the posteriors of people who live around them. But as long as people like her semi respect your property rights and keep matters out of court, it's possible to deal with them, I think. It's the Mike McGaritys of the world, who violate your fundamental property rights and launch baseless lawsuits, that become more than just troublesome--they become dangerous.
When I told Mrs. Schnauzer about the Lori Christensen story, I could immediately tell she was comparing it to what we have been through with McGarity. The missus thought for a while and responded with this:
"With the woman in Minnesota, you would have three choices: You could ignore her, since she stayed on her own property; you could give her some of her own medicine by yelling stuff back at her; or you could embarrass her by recording what she was doing and putting it on public display."
The Hoffmans ultimately decided to follow that third path. They captured some of Christensen's antics on videotape, and that seems to have played a major role in the judge's decision to administer some "tough love."
You can check out snippets of the videos in the following news report from a Minneapolis TV station. Lori Christensen certainly appears to be a loon. Is she worse than Mike McGarity? She's not even in his league, in my opinion: