The unbelievable past of the area's most feared tenant.1:50 am - 05/13/2011
Ben Hofseth long ago learned the hard way never to be surprised by his ex-wife. Yet he didn't realize exactly what she was capable of until one chilly day, March 20, 1988.
It's a Friday afternoon and Hofseth has just gotten off of work. As a case manager at a work-release program, he spends his time on the clock dealing with criminals: murderers, rapists, and white-collar frauds.
Driving in the late-winter Minnesota gloom, Hofseth steers his Volkswagen through the gates of a tony subdivision in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, pulls up to the curb next to a handsome rambler, puts the car in park, and gets out. The home belongs to his ex, Juanita, who has since remarried and taken her new husband's last name, Lammer. Hofseth and Lammer had once been in love, impulsively detouring to Las Vegas during a road trip to the Grand Canyon so that they could get hitched. Now they are in something like the opposite: the fourth year of an ugly, protracted custody battle.
Sitting in the middle of the fight are Hofseth and Lammer's two sons: 8-year-old Jesse and 5-year-old Nick. They are the ones Hofseth has come to see, and the ones he's been fighting to keep seeing this whole time. As he walks toward the front door of his ex-wife's new home, Hofseth unwittingly steps toward something like an end to his old life. The rules are about to change on him. Again.
Shortly after their divorce, the former couple had joint custody of the boys. Then Lammer started telling the courts that Jesse and Nick were coming home from weekends with Dad complaining that Hofseth had touched them while he bathed and changed them. Hofseth denied the allegations, submitted to a battery of psychological tests, and jumped through every imaginable hoop to prove his innocence. For nearly a year, his only contact with the boys came during chaperoned play dates in a sterile government office that spoke to many things, none of them familial warmth. Now, as he reaches Lammer's front door, he's hopeful that the worst of the fight is behind him. The judge assigned to his case is just beginning to see through Lammer's act. In another month, he may very well have the kids all to himself, happily careening through the bedroom he's rigged in the upper floor of a friend's house, his new, temporary crash pad. But he doesn't have another month.
Hofseth knocks. There's no answer. He rings the doorbell. Silence still. Then he leans over and looks through the picture window and into the living room. All that's left inside are the drapes. Half-stumbling to the house next door, Hofseth can't quite get his mind around what he's told next.
"They left last Sunday," the neighbor says. "Just packed up and went in the middle of the night."
Hofseth races to the police station, unaware that, no matter how fast he drives, it will make no difference. Lammer is already hundreds of miles away. The next time he'll see her, she'll be explaining why she kidnapped her kids to a sympathetic interviewer on 60 Minutes. The next time he'll see his boys in the flesh, they'll be a year older, 2,000 miles away in Washington, and wary of the man claiming to be their real father. But of all the things Hofseth is unable to anticipate this day, one of the worst of his life, there's this: More than 20 years later he'll get a call from a reporter asking him if he was once married to a woman named Juanita Lammer.
"Yes, I was," he'll say, following immediately with a question of his own: "What's she done now?"
The answer, he'll find out, is a lot.
Source is the Seattle Weekly (long article, but a very interesting read)
Believe it or not, the child abduction is only the beginning and a small part of this story. To summarize: woman moves to Washington sometime after abducting her children and somehow manages to manipulate people so well she convinces various home-owners to let her move into big expensive houses she can't possibly afford, which SHOULD be obvious with her history of bankruptcy, but somehow she gets them to trust her. "Court documents and interviews paint a picture of a manipulator who with the help of a background in hypnotherapy, some victims say, literally hypnotized them. Irate home-owners, one of whom is accused of threatening to kill Carde, claim she's cost them (and one elderly stroke survivor) hundreds of thousands of dollars, their homes and businesses, and in one case their will to live." I don't know if hypnosis is the best word to describe what she does because AFAIK a person must be a willing participant to be hypnotized, but eh.
This is more local news than anything else, but the story is so alarming and bizarre that I wanted to share it. Be careful of who you trust, folks. ALSO Apparently Carde or a friend of hers is futzing around in the comments of this article...yikes.