Woman Sentenced for Plaguing Buyers of Her Dream Home

Kathy Rowe says she was 'devastated, heartbroken'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2015 8:32 AM CST
Updated Feb 15, 2015 9:13 AM CST
Woman Sentenced for Plaguing Buyers of Her Dream Home
This May 2, 2006, photo shows Kathy Rowe in San Diego.   (AP Photo/U-T San Diego, K.C. Alfred)

"When I walked in, it felt like my house ... it's almost like, you know, you hear bluebirds sing and music play." That's what San Diego woman Kathy Rowe, 53, says about the Carmel Valley home she bid on in 2011. Despite the fairy-tale beginning, however, this story does not have a happy ending—for Rowe or for Janice Ruhter and Jerry Rice, the people who ended up winning the bidding war and moving into the house. A "devastated, heartbroken" Rowe decided to start playing what she calls pranks on the couple, who had a young child and another baby on the way when they moved in. Rowe, who was recently sentenced for stalking, tells ABC News about her misdeeds in an interview airing tomorrow on 20/20. Among her pranks: billing the couple for $1,000 worth of adult diapers and magazine subscriptions they didn't order, advertising a fake New Year's Eve party at their home, and sending Valentine's Day cards to neighbors' wives with Rice's name signed to them.

She even had their mail halted, listed the house for sale online (leading would-be buyers to simply show up there), and posted online ads for sex with Ruhter that instructed anyone interested to come to the house during the day. One man who read the ad actually did show up while Rice wasn't home, the couple tells People. "Once a month, I would be up all night and I would think, 'Wouldn't it be funny to do this?'" Rowe recalls. The torment went on for a year before she was arrested; she pleaded guilty in November and was last month sentenced to a year of home electronic surveillance and five years of probation (along with being ordered to keep her distance from Ruhter and Rice for a decade). The couple says the fear they experienced still lingers; they add that they don't feel Rowe has fully apologized. As for Rowe, she says, "I may be the least liked person in San Diego County." (At least she didn't have the home bulldozed.)

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