Man beaten in home invasion at Hudson apartment complex
Statistics show the Rivermill complex has more than its share of problems.
By THOMAS LAKE
Published March 4, 2007
HUDSON - Michael Kauffman stood over a broken suede couch and pointed to a red stain on the vertical blinds. His blood. From the invasion.
"I'll go buy a shotgun," he said. "Eight-shot."
"You could pick them up at Wal-Mart," his friend, Robert Weyde, said as he left the plundered apartment.
Twelve hours earlier, about 1 a.m. Friday, Kauffman awoke to a beating. Two men wearing ski masks punched him and choked him and whipped him with a gun. Then they threw him in the bathroom and made off with money and prescription drugs.
Kauffman, 22, has been arrested twice on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia. He admits to smoking marijuana. And he lives at the Rivermill apartments on Little Road, a tidy cluster of sky-blue structures with a history of disquiet.
A St. Petersburg Times analysis of data from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office shows that from 2000 to the first half of 2006, the rate of disturbance calls at Rivermill was among the highest in the county.
The call records show a dozen fights, 26 cases of criminal mischief and more than 40 burglaries.
"I'd believe it," said Tim Whitus, a 24-year-old inventory specialist who often lies awake at night with the sound of things crashing overhead or all-terrain vehicles revving in the parking lot. "A lot of bad people living here."
Residents of Rivermill are a mix of seniors, families and young singles. They choose this complex instead of competitors like Summer Trace or Cypress Trail because the prices - recently, $560 for a one-bedroom or $690 for a two-bedroom - are some of the lowest in the area.
"It's the only place we can honestly afford," said Shauna Passmann, 20, who lives with her boyfriend, 22-year-old John Tague, and their 3-month-old daughter. They are both college students. She is not working. He is a photo technician at Walgreens. They need a second bedroom but don't have the cash.
Property records show the complex is owned by American Opportunity For Housing-Rivermill LLC, of San Antonio, Texas. It is managed by the Lynd Company of the same city. Officials from Lynd did not return phone calls on Friday, but there are some who suggest that conditions are improving.
Tiffany Roman, 19, moved here in January. She said life at Rivermill is generally peaceful.
Martin Kline, a former complex employee who just signed his fourth lease, said a previous manager let in a string of bad tenants simply to keep the vacancy rate low so he would earn a bonus.
Kline said the current manager, Brenda Roche who declined comment for this story, has banished many of the troublemakers.
Michael Kauffman stood outside with bruises on his nose and dried blood in his ears. His T-shirt featured silhouettes of naked women. He wanted to go somewhere else.
"I don't feel right," he said. "I think I got swelling to the brain."
Times reporter Matthew Waite and researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Thomas Lake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.
[Last modified March 3, 2007, 20:42:17]
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