A Sarasota woman's fight to die at home - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

A Sarasota woman's fight to die at home

Posted: Updated:
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Breast cancer was quickly advancing on 55-year-old Julia Seyffert.

But as she fought her terminal illness, at the end of March, from her death bed, she was also forced to orchestrate an eviction of her so-called good friends Matthew and Marilyn Burgess from her Sarasota home, because the Burgesses just wouldn't move.

"I'm incredibly shocked that people who were my friends could be so inconsiderate," Seyffert said.

Julia offered the Burgesses a room in her home in early October.

"I couldn't imagine them being homeless, my heart went out to them," she said.

She asked them to help keep her house clean and tidy. According to court records, the Burgesses helped pay a portion of Julia's utility bill for a couple of months, then stopped.

By December, Julia was becoming desperately ill. She needed a caretaker.

She couldn't move a caretaker in, until the Burgesses moved out, and according to court records, she'd been asking them to leave since the beginning of February.

Instead of moving out, Julia and her friends contend the Burgesses moved more of their belongings into her home.

In early March, Julia went to hospice to stabilize some serious health issues. Hospice decided she was too weak to go home without a caretaker in place. Julia was transferred to a skilled nursing facility in Sarasota, where she stayed at taxpayers' expense.

Her friends the Burgesses hadn't budged.

"I don't want to die in a nursing home," Julia said. "I want to be home."

In late March, a friend, former federal prosecutor Mikal Frey, filed an eviction complaint on Julia's behalf against the Burgesses.

"Julia's rights and her needs trump theirs, absolutely.  It's her house, she wants to go home and live and die in her own home," Frey stated.

The Burgesses stayed put.

"We don't have any comment at this time, there's a bunch of misunderstanding," Matthew Burgess said.

On Julia's front door, the Burgesses had taped up hand written notes explaining their side of the dispute and their rights according to Florida law.  One letter stated in part, "It is unlawful for you to attempt to remove us or our property from this house. You must follow Florida eviction law procedures."

According to Tampa attorney Mark Aubin, Florida law says house guests become tenants if they stay for a prolonged period of time, or pay any part of the mortgage or utilities.  The law protects tenants, and to remove them requires an eviction and that can take up to two months.

"Sadly you know, just based on the way things are these days, you've got to be very hesitant to try to extend that olive branch to try to help people out, because it can come right back and bite you," Aubin said.

Matthew Burgess contacted 8 On Your Side, and said he and his wife Marilyn provided Julia with a wonderful Christmas, helped around the house, and created a family atmosphere.  He said they would be moving as soon as possible.  He also filed court papers asking the judge in the case for more time so he could hire a lawyer.

On April 12th, the Burgesses claimed to have found a new place and said they would move out that weekend.

Julia didn't make it through the weekend. She died in the nursing home early in the morning of April 14th, her own home still occupied by so-called friends who wouldn't leave.

"I'm just so sad and disgusted by it and I'm really hoping that this story alerts people within the community of the possibilities of what can go wrong when you take somebody in your home," Frey said.

The Burgesses did leave Julia's house April 22nd, a week later than they said they'd be out.  Later that day a judge granted Julia's estate an eviction.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLATAMPA

 

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Outpouring of support for New Port Richey soldier dealing with squatters

    Outpouring of support for New Port Richey soldier dealing with squatters

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:52:26 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community. Many News Channel 8 viewers and Facebook followers are angry about what happened to the soldier.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community. Many News Channel 8 viewers and Facebook followers are angry about what happened to the soldier.
  • Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:35:13 GMT
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
  • New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:58 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:58:50 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
     When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Outpouring of support for New Port Richey soldier dealing with squatters

    Outpouring of support for New Port Richey soldier dealing with squatters

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:52:26 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community. Many News Channel 8 viewers and Facebook followers are angry about what happened to the soldier.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community. Many News Channel 8 viewers and Facebook followers are angry about what happened to the soldier.
  • Sarasota teacher meltdown goes viral, student in video being bullied

    Sarasota teacher meltdown goes viral, student in video being bullied

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:51:00 GMT
    Jeffrey Daughtry is a math teacher at Sarasota Military Academy, is seen having a meltdown on video.Jeffrey Daughtry is a math teacher at Sarasota Military Academy, is seen having a meltdown on video.
    By now, many have seen the video of a Sarasota teacher screaming at one of his students. Now the family of that student is speaking out.
    By now, many have seen the video of a Sarasota teacher screaming at one of his students. Now the family of that student is speaking out.
  • TIA rolls out green carpet for IIFA Bollywood stars

    TIA rolls out green carpet for IIFA Bollywood stars

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:34 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:34:47 GMT
    Actress Deepika Padukone with TIA CEO Joe Lopano. TIA Twitter photoActress Deepika Padukone with TIA CEO Joe Lopano. TIA Twitter photo
    Tampa International Airport rolled out the "green" carpet for celebrities attending the IIFA Bollywood awards this weekend in Tampa.
    Tampa International Airport rolled out the "green" carpet for celebrities attending the IIFA Bollywood awards this weekend in Tampa.
  • 29 Virginia High Schools on Personal Finance Top-100 List

    29 Virginia High Schools on Personal Finance Top-100 List

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:32 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:32:06 GMT
    29 schools in the Commonwealth, including many in our area, ranked the the nation's top 100 best high schools for personal finance instruction.
    29 schools in the Commonwealth, including many in our area, ranked the the nation's top 100 best high schools for personal finance instruction.
  • Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office investigating juvenile death

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:50 AM EDT2014-04-22 14:50:58 GMT
    Deputies were called to Double Oaks Lane in the Burnt Chimney community, where they found a seven-year-old boy with a gunshot wound.
    Deputies were called to Double Oaks Lane in the Burnt Chimney community, where they found a seven-year-old boy with a gunshot wound.
  • Roanoke Police release pictures of suspects in armed robbery

    Roanoke Police release pictures of suspects in armed robbery

    Monday, April 21 2014 4:23 PM EDT2014-04-21 20:23:34 GMT
    Roanoke City Police continue to investigate the armed robbery that took place at Check into Cash on Valley View Boulevard last Tuesday, April 15th.
    Roanoke City Police continue to investigate the armed robbery that took place at Check into Cash on Valley View Boulevard last Tuesday, April 15th.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.