By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
@body:Tanya Becker's scrape with Steve Hart has cost her more than time and money. Except for a short visit over the holidays, she and her son have been separated from her husband in Texas. She says the conflict over the house has caused tension with her husband; he wants her to give up and come home, but she refuses.
"I know I made a mistake when I signed the contract," Becker admits. "But I'm trying to believe in the justice system; they will get him out eventually. But every day, my faith gets less and less."
Everyone, including her attorney, assures her the system will work in time. "I tell my clients how the system is supposed to work. Unfortunately, it doesn't always do what I say it's going to as fast as it should," says Mark Heldenbrand, Becker's attorney. "She's shocked by this, but I see it every day."
Becker gets choked up when she talks about the man occupying her home. She has been fighting so long that her words tumble out in a stream of frustration and disbelief.
She will never forget last August 15. That day, when Becker went to show her home to new prospective buyers, she was embarrassed to discover that her key didn't work. After loud and sustained knocking got no response, access was gained through an open window in the garage.
As she walked through her house, she was alarmed to find someone else's furniture, carefully arranged in corners, so as not to be seen by anyone looking in the windows.
But the real horror was in the bedroom, where she found Hart curled up in bed, hiding under the covers. Seeing him startled her, and she screamed and ran from the room.
After consulting with police, Becker went ahead and showed the house to the other prospective buyers that day. But while the home tour was taking place, Steve Hart was in the backyard, calmly erecting a swing set. He acted as though he intended to stay.