First you see this nanny, now you don't. Has she finally disappeared or will she return to terrorizing the family that hired her?
A live-in nanny took the “live-in” portion of her job title quite seriously, refusing to leave the home of Ralph and Marcella Bracamonte – an Upland, California couple with three young children. While 64-year-old Diane Stretton has the “live-in” down pat, it’s the “nanny” part of her job that the Bracamontes were not happy with. Stretton was fired, but incredulously, she refused to leave. The exasperated couple say Stretton is nothing but a squatter at this point, but the law appears to be on the nanny’s side.
The Bracamontes placed an ad on Craigslist, offering to room a nanny in exchange for caregiving of their children – ages 11, 4 and 1 – along with general housework and some cooking. Stretton responded to the ad, and the benevolent elderly woman, who at first appeared to be a cross between Mrs. Doubtfire and the Brady Bunch’s Alice, quickly turned into a You, Me and Dupree nanny nightmare.
Stretton stopped cooking, stopping caring for the kids, stopped smiling and basically morphed into a typical 17-year-old teen – locked up in her room and only coming out when she was hungry.
“I think she actually spends her day trying to ruin people's lives,” an exasperated Marcella Bracamonte, 31, told Good Morning America, “and misery loves company.”
Marcella said things at first were fine, better than fine even. “The first few weeks she was awesome,” the mom said. “She would come places with us, help out the kids. She was really great. All of a sudden she stopped working, she would stay in her room all day and only come out when food was ready.”
The Bracamontes have tried everything they can – they contacted police, served the nanny with drawn up papers and contracts, even putting a bike lock on their refrigerator to keep Stretton from mooching. But she’s still sticking it out. What’s more, the police told the family of five that Stretton has “established residency” and can’t simply be strong-armed out. Authorities say it’s a civil matter, and if the family wants her out, they must file for an eviction – a process that can take months.
When a local CBS reporter asked Stretton why she wouldn't leave, the nanny said nothing.
“This person is in our house, and I have to go to work,” said 35-year-old Ralph Bracamonte, who works as an electrician. “She towers over my wife, my kids. And I know there is nothing I can do about it.”
In fact, the Bracamontes said Stretton has even threatened to sue them – for wrongful firing and elder abuse.
Stretton is no stranger to litigation. Despite claiming to do a background check on her, somehow the Bracamontes missed the fact that her name has been connected with at least 35 past lawsuits.
ABC News gave a little insight into the tribulation that has become the Bracamonte’s life:
Stretton told the couple she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which prevented her from helping around the house.
After what the Bracamontes said was weeks of failed attempts to encourage Stretton to perform some of her agreed upon duties, the couple approached her on June 6 with a “last chance letter” reiterating the conditions of her job and stating the consequences if she continued to ignore her responsibilities. Stretton, Bracamonte said, refused to sign the letter, saying that the job was too much for her and she would be leaving in 30 days.
The Bracamontes approached her with a second letter putting her 30-day notice in writing, which, they said, she also refused to sign.
“When I asked her why she wouldn’t sign the letter she said ‘It’s not legal,’ and slammed the door in my face,” Marcella Bracamonte recalled. “Once she said the word legal, I knew it wasn’t going to be fun.”
She’s sue-happy, says Marcella. “Anyone who looks at her crooked, she sues. I’m not going to bend for her. I’m in charge, this is my house. She’s not going to scare me out of my own house.”
But Marcella is concerned about the safety of her children. “I worry there’s obviously something not right in her mind, and the police won’t protect us until someone gets hurt,” the mom said. “You don’t know what you’re opening yourself up to when you open your house to someone,
The Daily Mail is now reporting that Stretton, who was evidently homeless for nine years before landing the job with the Bracamontes, left their home on Thursday and was seen cowering in a car parked outside of an Upland police station, hiding under a blue windshield cover. The Bracamontes say all of her belongings are still in her room however, so who knows what this wonky nanny-turned-squatter is up to now.
"If we're to lock her out of our house she could sue us, if we're to grab her stuff and throw it out of our house she can sue us," Ralph said.
USA Today said "Stretton reportedly has been involved in three dozen lawsuits and is listed by California courts as a 'vexatious litigant' for abusing the legal system."
Can you even begin to picture the ordeal this family is going through? Sound off with your thoughts below.