New York magazine calls it "the worst roommate story you'll ever read"—and that's no exaggeration, as many readers of the viral piece have pointed out on Twitter. William Brennan's harrowing longform on Jamison Bachman starts with the story of Alex Miller, a Philadelphia woman looking for a roommate via Craigslist last March. "Jed Creek" responded to her ad and the 60-year-old seemed like a perfect fit—but, as Miller discovered after he started exhibiting bizarre and threatening behavior toward her, "Creek" was actually Bachman, a "serial squatter" who used his knowledge of tenancy laws to terrorize roommates, ultimately sending a dozen of them "into court and often from their home." His motivation did not seem to be financial, Brennan writes: Rather, "he seemed to relish the anguish of those who had taken him in without realizing that they would soon be pulled into a terrifying battle for their home."
Bachman started by making ever-so-slightly unsettling changes to his roommates' homes, things like moving furniture or taking lightbulbs from common areas for his own use. Eventually his behavior escalated—he would clog toilets with his cat's litter, refuse to pay rent based on something minor like a messy living room or a cigarette butt in the toilet bowl, threaten legal action, and even sometimes get violent. All the while he would refuse requests to move out, ultimately forcing the roommate to sue him. Brennan's piece delves into Bachman's affluent upbringing and how a promising childhood and adolescence devolved into a paranoid young adulthood after he witnessed the murder of a friend in college, a fractured relationship with his family—and from there, the roommate exploits. As the situation between Bachman and Miller crescendoed, things took a sharp and tragic turn. Brennan's full piece is absolutely worth a read. (Read more Longform stories.)