AVONDALE, AZ (3TV) - A 3 On Your Side investigation uncovers something very bizarre and unexpected happening to an Avondale family after a "mysterious" woman filed court paperwork to take possession of their Avondale home.
3 On Your Side went to the eviction court hearing to try and get some answers.
When 3 On Your Side caught up with this "mystery" woman in court, she maintained she was Hortencia Cruz, and according to her, she rightfully owns the Avondale home that Cruz family has lived in and paid the mortgage on for 18 years.
"How are you? I'm Gary Harper with 3 On Your Side. Tell me about this house on Alvarado street. You say it's your house?" asked Gary Harper.
"Yes, that's my house," the woman responded.
"How is that your house?" asked Harper.
"I'm the beneficiary of my parents. They passed away, and they left me as the beneficiary," she said.
She may claim to be the beneficiary, but the Cruz family says something sinister is going on, and they want answers. Husband and wife, Hortencia and Jesus Cruz, purchased the home 18 years ago when the home was being built. They raised their children in the house and made every mortgage payment until they paid the home off in full.
But according to the Cruz family, this "mysterious woman," who apparently shares the exact same name of Hortencia Cruz, is demanding the family exit the home. This woman is saying her father, Jesus, owned it at one time and passed it on to her when he died in 2003.
This gets confusing because there are two women, both apparently with the same name of Hortencia Cruz. One is married to Jesus Cruz. The other "mystery" woman says her deceased dad is named Jesus Cruz.
Four people. All the same name.
The homeowners, husband and wife Hortencia and Jesus Cruz, showed us government-issued IDs indicating they really are Hortencia and Jesus Cruz. They also provided us the home's deed and many other documents containing both of their names and showing them as joint owners of the house and listing them as "husband and wife" on those documents.
Yet, the other Hortencia maintains the house was left to her following her dad's death.
She even shuffled through paperwork that she said proved the house was hers.
However, 3 On Your Side was unable to verify what some of the documents were and if the documents were legitimate.
And, when we asked the woman if her name was really Hortencia Cruz, she showed us her driver's license indicating that it was her name.
"So your father, you're telling me, left this house to you?" 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper asked her.
"Yes, correct," she said.
"But how could that be because that house doesn't belong to you or your father. It belongs to another family; they built it and paid for it," asked Harper.
"No," she replied. "My dad's the one that bought the lot, and he built it," she said.
She is so convinced she legally owns this home that she sent the family numerous notices for them to vacate.
In fact, some of the process servers were captured on the family's security cameras dropping off those notices.
The woman even went as far as asking for an eviction hearing which is where 3 On Your Side was able to sit and talk with her to try and get some answers on that day, but the more we tried clearing up the situation, the "foggier" things got.
"You still feel in your head that this house belongs to you?" asked Harper.
"Correct," she replied.
"There's no forged documents or anything that's fabricated that would make this not a real deal?" asked Harper.
"I don't think so," she responded.
The Cruz family had to hire an attorney and although they are baffled as to how and why this is happening, they say they're eager to sort it out in front of a judge who handles evictions, hoping it will finally come to a stop and they can live their lives in peace.
But on the court day, the hearing ended shortly after it started.
That's because the judge determined the unusual and complicated case needed to be transferred to a higher court.
From the bench, the judge said, "I cannot make any determination or any decisions that have to do with ownership or real property… I'm not going to get involved with it. I'm just going to transfer this case to the Superior Court."
Regardless, the woman who asked for this eviction hearing says she will keep fighting to gain possession of the home.
"Something fishy is going on here, something strange," Harper told her.
She responded by saying, "I think they stole my identity."
But the Cruz family says that's ridiculous and they say they think that woman is the one trying to steal what doesn't belong to her. They say they can't believe they have to fight so hard for something they paid for and own. Regardless, they say they have all the proof and every piece of documentation to show the house is legally and rightfully theirs. But they say they're frustrated that it's turning into such a long ordeal to prove.
"This has been very stressful for all of us, my husband, my daughter, all of us. It's been very stressful," says wife and mom Hortencia Cruz.
This case should be on the Superior Court's docket in the next few months, so, unfortunately, everything appears to remain up in the air. The 3 On Your Side team will continue to follow this situation and give an update once a judge decides what is going on.