ONTD Political

The unbelievable past of the area's most feared tenant.

1:50 am - 05/13/2011
Homewrecker

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.

starsinshapes 13th-May-2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
So wait. He hasn't seen his kids in more than 20 years? That is beyond upsetting.
dangerousdame 13th-May-2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
Looks like he saw them a year later, but found out the truth in twenty years.
anysomething 13th-May-2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
He ended up getting custody of his children. His ex-wife is completely crackers, as you find out in the rest of the article. She's conned people to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars and committed all kinds of fraud.

Edited at 2011-05-13 01:27 pm (UTC)
starsinshapes 13th-May-2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank god.
chrys20 13th-May-2011 12:30 pm (UTC)
I've heard of a lot of such cases here in Holland, either the husband taking the kids to Egypt/Iran/wherever else in the Middle East (it's almost always those regions) or the mum just packing up and moving their children halfway across the glove (usually the USA or somesuch place).
wind_hover 13th-May-2011 12:47 pm (UTC)
But he also admits that most cases don't end up in court anymore: budget cuts have eviscerated the department so thoroughly—in the past three years, 150 jobs have been cut and the fraud unit disbanded—that basic detective work isn't getting done.

"Our #1 priority is to respond to 911 calls," says Urquhart. "Burglary, theft, car prowl, and fraud do not get much, if any, follow-up."


This is what I feel to be the worst part.
suthrncan 13th-May-2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
No joke!
the_jackalope 13th-May-2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
yep, me too. I saw that and just felt horrified. And I'm sure that's not the only place in the country where that is the case.
carmy_w 13th-May-2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
Yes!

It's a sad day when our government is too cash-strapped to provide for the safety and general welfare of the citizenry.
But hey! Trickle down works!
be_themoon 13th-May-2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
God, those poor kids.
dangerousdame 13th-May-2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
I tend to be wary of 'diagnosing' people over the internet- but I'd swear this woman is a sociopath. Also, fuck 60 Minutes.
snapesgirl34 13th-May-2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Same here, but "incredibly charming woman willing to say or do whatever it takes to get what she wants, and to intimidate and threaten anyone who stands in her way" sounds like a pretty classic sociopath. :/
ntensity 13th-May-2011 01:29 pm (UTC)
I dont understand...an 8 year old and a 5 year old don't see their real father for a year and they are wary of him when they do?

Am I the only one that finds that odd? They were not that young to forget their father in a year, no matter how far away he was.
dangerousdame 13th-May-2011 01:31 pm (UTC)
It says she told them he wasn't really their father, and they didn't know what to think.
ntensity 13th-May-2011 01:36 pm (UTC)
Was that in the rest of the article at the source, or do my reading skills really just fail? haha

(Thanks for the answer btw b/c that was bugging me a lot for some reason)
dangerousdame 13th-May-2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
In the article at the source, don't worry.
owl_eyes_4ever 13th-May-2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
The older son never really trusted his dad again, but the younger one had a better relationship with him. The younger one acknowledges in the article how fucked up his mother is, but says that despite her many flaws she really did love her sons and did what she did (to them) out of that.
hourglasscreate 13th-May-2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
What I want to know is what the upshot of the custody battles with this woman was? Yeah, she's scum, but what happened with her kids and her ex-husband.
anysomething 13th-May-2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
Her ex-husband got the kids, but she got visitation rights and the boys had to stay with her for two weeks in the summer and visit at Christmas.
pachakuti 13th-May-2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
The article kind of implies, too, that long-term the boys never quite managed to break away from her.
anysomething 13th-May-2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
yeah, that's true, especially the older one.
apis_cerana 13th-May-2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
She sounds like a sociopath. The poor kids...:\
carmy_w 13th-May-2011 04:23 pm (UTC)
Definitely a narcissist.
lickety_split 13th-May-2011 02:58 pm (UTC)
She claims to be trained as a therapist, hypnotherapist, and mediator, while also boasting of "notable experience" in such disparate areas of knowledge as emotional incest, motivational speaking, and anti-terrorism.

LOL WTF @ that last one.
tekiclutch 13th-May-2011 05:42 pm (UTC)
"I just got my certificate in incestuous motivational terrorism!"
maladaptive 13th-May-2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
I'm kind of freaked out that she got visitation rights-- the boys were sent to live with her for two weeks and Christmas-- after she'd already kidnapped them. Like, how can you acquit her of those charges? She went on 60 Minutes and admitted she ran away with her kids! How could a judge in good conscience say "yeah, put your kids on a plane to see someone who has already attempted to steal them away."

I don't know why, but that's the part of the story that really leaves me agog and made me feel tense just thinking about it.
carmy_w 13th-May-2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
YES!
anamatics 13th-May-2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
I'm still working my way through the original article, but holy crap.
aviv_b 13th-May-2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
Just finished the original article and its amazing that she has done no jail time, and been fined relatively small amounts of money compared to the fraud and ruin she's left in her wake.

Something is rotten in Denmark her neck of the woods and its not just her. Our justice system is seriously broke when someone who gets caught with pot gets life in prison and she's walking around looking for her next victim.
fornikate 13th-May-2011 05:37 pm (UTC)
seriously
nonnycat 14th-May-2011 01:22 am (UTC)
Part of the reason is that most of this involves evictions and WA is a very tenant-friendly state. Too much so, IMO. It took my parents several years to get a tenant who went months without paying and eventually stopped entirely to get evicted. To my knowledge, the guy basically got away with no criminal charges and without having to pay up, but my folks were pretty much just happy to have him out. And then ended up paying some $15k to fix the damages he had done to the house, and it would have been a lot more if they hadn't done most of the labor themselves.
luminescnece 14th-May-2011 04:13 am (UTC)
I'm sorry that happened to your parents. But it really goes both ways...

ms_mmelissa 13th-May-2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
My parents are landlords and someone like her would be their worst nightmare. Not surprised at all that she managed to squat for so long. In Canada renters are allowed to go up to six months without paying rent before you can start evicting them. And if they pay the rent once in those six months then the whole thing just starts all over. People who understand how to work the system coupled with an underpaid, understaffed police force are a terrible combination.
ladyumbra 13th-May-2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
Holy hell she was one very successful con artist and I pity anyone who came across her and was left the worse for it.
echoandsway 14th-May-2011 03:28 am (UTC)
Sociopath.

And one who is *very* good at working people -- and the system -- to maximum advantage to get what she wants.

This is a dangerous person. Not necessarily a violent person, but one who leaves an awful lot of emotional wreckage behind her. There should be a reckoning.
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