Dying of cancer, Butner woman says she's being evicted over mold - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Dying of cancer, Butner woman says she's being evicted over mold complaints

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Doctors told Mary Smith she only has a few months to live.  She believes she and her cousin are being evicted from their apartment because they complained about mold. Doctors told Mary Smith she only has a few months to live. She believes she and her cousin are being evicted from their apartment because they complained about mold.
BUTNER, N.C. -

A Butner woman, who is dying of cancer, is also now facing eviction from her home. 

Mary Smith, 57, lives with her cousin Richard Chichester.  The eviction notice came on Nov. 5, one month after doctors said Smith only had three to six months to live because of her lung cancer.

What's more, Chichester believes they're being evicted because he complained about a persistent mold problem to the landlord, Lavern Marks.

"We just believe that Ms. Marks, for whatever reason, has decided she just doesn't want to deal with the problem that we've complained about," Chichester said.

Chichester says he has lived in the red brick rancher for 17 years.  Smith moved in three years ago and they say they are up to date on the rent.

Chichester gave WNCN a tour of the house, showing where leaks from a busted pipe left cracks and openings in the bathroom and kitchen ceilings.  He also showed where the fireplace in the living room had become unsealed, allowing cold, damp air in.  Black dots can be seen on the wall and inside a picture frame that sits on the mantle.

"We think it's mold," Chichester said.

Chichester says, over the years, repair men have fixed some of the leaking pipes and drainage issues under the house, but says they were only temporary fixes.

The eviction notice came just a few weeks after doctors at Duke Hospital told Smith her lung cancer, coupled with emphysema and other ailments, meant she only had a few months to live.

"Her facing this, or having to face this...has been...hard to watch," Chichester said, "because it's happening pretty fast."

Chichester and Smith say they have not been given a clear reason for the eviction.  They claim to not have any family in the area and live on a modest income.

"I really don't understand, how knowing what she knows, she could still be evicting us, just because this may not be the time for her financially or weather wise or whatever," she said.  "It is impossible for me to go through that right now.  I'm too sick to move."

On Friday, WNCN stopped by the home of the landlord, Lavern Marks. 

When asked, a woman in the front yard told us she was not Marks.  The woman asked us to leave and said, "The thing for you to do in these mobile home parks is not to get involved with our business."

WNCN showed video of the woman to Chichester, who said it looked like Marks to him, but WNCN has not been able to confirm if it actually was her.

The landlord is threatening to begin eviction proceedings on Dec. 5.  Then, Chichester and Smith hope a judge will allow them to say for a little while longer, only so Smith can die peacefully.

"What we're going to ask for in court is if she wants to evict Richard after my death," Smith said, "That'll be fine."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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