Edgartown Police recover most items from house squatter yard sale

The woman lived in the house for one week and sold or gave away items that police are now attempting to recover.

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Photos courtesy of the Edgartown

Updated 11 am, Tuesday, April 30

Edgartown Police said Michelle Filkins of Wareham broke into a seasonal residence on Court Street off Road to the Plains near the Edgartown Highway Department facility, and lived there with her cat for about one week, even hosting an impromptu free yard sale at which she gave away items.

Less than one week after police arrested Ms. Filkins, in a post to the department’s Facebook page police announced that “most of the missing items from the Court Street residence have been recovered.”

“The items had been placed on the side of the road and given away by the suspect,” Police said. “One gentleman asked the suspect if she was selling the items and she told him he could take them for free. So, as it stands now, the homeowners are still out some pots & pans, linens, and lamps. The most significant items have been accounted for.”

A caretaker on his regular rounds discovered Ms. Filkins in the house on Friday morning, April 17. “He asked her who she was and she said she was the owner of the house,” Officer Michael Gazaille told The Times.

The 44-year-old woman was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on Friday, April 17, on charges that included breaking and entering, larceny over $250, and malicious destruction of property over $250.

Ms. Filkins was held without bail and transferred to Falmouth District Court for a competency evaluation. She is currently being held in state custody. A pre-trail hearing is scheduled for May 14.

Ms. Filkins court appointed lawyer, Robert Moriarty, said she is undergoing examination to evaluate her competency to stand trial and her criminal responsibility. Mr. Moriarty said there are serious concerns about her mental condition.

Officer Gazaille said that as far as police could tell, there was no apparent connection between the woman and the Vineyard, or that particular house. “There was no rhyme or reason to why she broke in there,” he said.

Police encountered Ms. Filkins earlier this month when she created a disturbance at the Kelley House. Police suspect she broke into the house not long after that, and had been living in the house for about a week or so. “A contractor working nearby had seen her during the week pretty much living there like she owned the place,” Officer Gazaille said.

Following the discovery that Ms. Filkins was in the house, the caretaker called police. Ms. Filkins fled in her truck, but later returned. She was apprehended a short time later. At the time of her arrest, and in the jail, Ms. Filkins insisted it was her house. Police found cat food and a litterbox in the house.

Mr. Gazaille said there is no indication that Ms. Filkins sold items from the house. “She was just putting stuff by the side of the road,” he said.

Soon after the arrest, police posted a description of the incident on the Edgartown Police Department (EPD) Facebook page, in an effort to recover items discovered missing from the house.

“A worker in the neighborhood reported that one day it appeared she had a yard sale and sold a number of items from the property,” police said on the Facebook post. “If anyone received property from this address, we are asking that you please return it to EPD. We’re not sure at this point if the female was selling or just giving things away. If in fact you did purchase something, you are a victim as well, and EPD will assist you in seeking restitution via the court prosecution of this case.”

Police listed the following items: four deck chairs from Crate & Barrel, one Weber grill, two side tables from Ethan Allen, one Ann Chase lamp, two lamps from Crate and Barrel, two framed posters, various pot and pans, all linens, and a painting by the homeowner.

Word circulated quickly through the Vineyard community. Earlier this week, police recovered the painting. Police thanked the community for its assistance.