October 9, 2004
Gilbert residents Sue and Mike Henstein rarely use their pool, and it’s not because the water has gotten too cold.
They and their 8-year-old daughter don’t swim much because it’s often contaminated by feces and broken glass.
For the past four years, someone has been throwing glass bottles filled with cat and human excrement into their back yard near Val Vista Drive and Warner Road.
Over the past week, police have been to their home five times to pick up the shattered glass in the hopes of getting fingerprints. On Thursday, Sue Henstein took a bottle to the police department, only to return to find two more shattered bottles.
They believe — and the Gilbert Police Department is investigating the possibility — that their neighbor, Maurice Wilson, is responsible.
Wilson, 53, declined to be interviewed when contacted Thursday. Police reports indicate he has denied any wrongdoing. Wilson, who is black, has told officers the Hensteins, who are white, have thrown cat feces and cigars in his yard, poisoned his landscaping and egged his home in an effort to force him to leave the neighborhood because of his race, according to police reports.
The Hensteins moved next door to Wilson about six years ago and got along for two years, Sue Henstein said.
Then, Wilson accused them of allowing their cats — who live indoors — to roam and relieve themselves in his yard, Sue Henstein said.
That’s when the feces started flying, she said.
Things have gotten worse since court orders were issued against both sides in March.
The Hensteins have had to replace three windows broken by flying rocks and a bottle of urine, their car has been keyed and portions of their grass have died overnight.
"I’m getting more and more afraid every day," Sue Henstein said.
Police reports and interviews with neighbors indicate the Hensteins are not alone in their dispute with Wilson.
Anastasia Landrum, 40, and Eric Almejo, 51, said Wilson has accused them of letting their cats defecate in his yard.
Landrum got a court order against Wilson, and Almejo told police he believes Wilson egged his house.
Gilbert police Sgt. Lance Baker said the Arabian Drive dispute is somewhat unusual.
So far, police haven’t made any arrests due to a lack of independent witnesses and conclusive physical evidence, but they continue to work the case, Baker said.
They are waiting for fingerprint analysis to be done, but DNA testing is out of the question because of the misdemeanor nature of the crimes, said Sgt. Dan Pringle.
Baker said officers will continue to respond to the neighborhood and hopes both sides will one day participate in mediation.
It has gotten so bad, the Hensteins have considered moving. "But I almost don’t want to put this on anyone else," Sue Henstein said.