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Hell’s Housesitter

A Coast couple was off to Mexico for the winter of 2008, secure, they thought, that their home and aged pets, a dog and a cat, were in capable, responsible hands.

“I found her on the internet on an Australia-based web­site,” says the lady of the house as she begins her sad tale of her adventures in housesitters. “At the time she was housesitting in Scotland. She presented very well online, but the reality was horrible.”

And almost ruinous.

“She” was Miss Shelley Connolly who soon arrived in Mendocino to occupy for the agreed upon four months, the comfortable home of Mr. and Mrs. Coast.

A versatile young woman from Chico, Miss Con­nolly has variously earned her way as a house sitter, golf instructor, and musician.

Miss Connolly travels a lot.

But she had agreed to care for the Coasts' home and their two pets while the retired couple enjoyed four serene months in Mexico.

Serene was not to be.

The Coasts soon learned that their family member nearest to Mendocino, a resident of Reno, had been summoned by Miss Connolly to come to the Coasts' home in Mendocino. Pronto, too, because Miss Connolly had her own travel plans.

Abandoning her house sitting duties for 23 of the first 60 days of her 120-day agreement to live in the Coasts' home and care for their pets, Miss Connolly had gone off to North Carolina and then left the North American continent altogether for a jaunt to Ireland.

Reno is a long way from Mendocino, but the Reno relative, putting his own life on hold, had hustled west to watch the house and its geriatric dog and cat.

Miss Connolly's sudden wanderlusts were, to say the least, inconvenient to the couple trying to relax in Mex­ico.

Soon fully aware that the wandering lass from Butte County was on the road more than she was tending their homestead in Mendocino, the Coasts hurried home.

Mrs. Coast resumes her lament.

“ I found she not only wasn't there, but she had changed the locks and trashed the house. A few days after I got back, she called to say that she would be gone even longer.”

A house sitter who changes the locks on the house she's sitting then abandons that house for her own vaca­tions seems to be a Mendocino County housesitting first. It may also be a national housesitting first.

Miss Connolly was fired.

Their home converted to a slob's den in their absence, their pets disoriented and lonely, the Coasts could not have known that their ordeal had just begun.

They got the full picture when Miss Connolly sued them.

“I kicked her out and kept her $500 security deposit,” remembers the indignant Mrs. Coast as if there just might be a person alive somewhere who would have done different.

But Miss Connolly thought she was the wronged party. Miss Connolly soon found herself in the dependably arbitrary embrace of Ten Mile Justice Court Judge Jonathan Lehan where the judge, true to form, doubled the confusion and tripled the Coasts' costs, emotional and fiscal.

Miss Connolly bamboozled the judge who soon came up with one of his typically befuddled decisions.

When she wasn't in court, Miss Connolly picked up a few non-housesitting bucks giving golf lessons and playing her banjo in local bars.

“ She is a pub performer, and boy, did she give a grand performance in court,” Mrs. Coast remembers. “But I couldn't believe that Lehan believed her lies. And he wouldn't allow me to rebut!”

The judge seemed dimly aware that Miss Connolly wasn't entirely on the up and up because he awarded her only $102 of the $2000 she'd sought.

But the $102 was just enough to make Miss Connolly think she had a case.

Miss Connolly promptly appealed. She said Judge Lehan's ruling had been defective, wrong even.

Meantime, the Coasts otherwise unblemished credit rating took a big whack.

“Unbeknownst to me,” Mrs. Coast says, “court judg­ments are reported to the three credit reporting compa­nies, and stay there for 7 years. It made my credit rating drop by nearly 200 points, even though she was paid and the amount was small.”

In the gimlet-eyed worldview of the credit compa­nies, a judgment is a judgment, warranted or not. It doesn't matter if you promptly pay the full amount judged against you, in this case a measly $102, and it doesn't matter if your credit history is otherwise unblemished. It goes down in the Big Book of Credit that you were in court and you paid a judgment.

Miss Connolly's appeal soon arrived in Ukiah before the more clear-sighted Judge LaCasse. LaCasse wasted no time informing the disbelieving Miss Connolly that since she was the plaintiff and had in any case received money for doing a job she hadn't done, she couldn't appeal.

Miss Connolly went right off on LaCasse.

“Judge Lehan made the wrong decision, and I want my money! money! money! money!”

Miss Connolly didn't get the money! money! money!

But she…



About here it might be appropriate to take a diction­ary break.

“Sociopath: n. A person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme anti-social attitudes and behavior.”

The brazen Butte beaut had somehow gotten herself a free attorney and was again in court, a year after she'd first appeared at the Coasts' unsuspecting family home in Mendocino.

At her third hearing of her non-case, Judge John Behnke, echoing Judge LaCasse, told Miss Connolly that her petsitting performance and her grotesque pursuit of more money from her victims, would now cost her $102 plus $50 in court costs.

Judge Behnke awarded Miss Connolly $0.

And she has enormously complicated the Coasts' abil­ity to help their daughter refinance her home because one of the national credit rating companies has yet to erase Judge Lehan's incompetent judgement against the Coasts.

Miss Connolly has since moved on.

She's now housesitting in Seattle.


  1. Shelley October 14, 2010

    This is a libelous and slanderous article that shows irresponsible journalism on the part of your paper. I was not contacted prior to its publication, and as a journalism major, I am appalled that you would take one person’s word for such a story, which is not only false and damaging to my reputation, you did so without seeking out another side.

    I have every Skype conversation and email that went back and forth with Edie Coon, (whose real name was not used in the article), refuting her story. I also can be supplied court transcripts showing that what you have written never occurred. I have contacted a lawyer, as using my name and picture and false statements against me is against the law. Enough from Edie Coon and her vindictive lies. And shame on you for such irresponsible journalism!

    • Kat October 18, 2010

      Since you enjoy performing, suing the AVA for printing this article gives you yet an additional opportunity in the Mendocino courthouse-and I’d enjoy watching Bruce co-star.

      On another note, your biggest shame should be for the poor dog and cat!

  2. Bruce Anderson October 15, 2010

    What exactly is libelous? Specifics, please. Of course you’re welcome
    to write your version of events, but serial court judgments against
    you wouldn’t seem to suggest you’ve been libeled.

    • Shelley October 23, 2010

      Bruce, if you’d really like to know what is libelous, I’d be happy to send you the Skype conversations and email exchanges between Edie Coon and me. All absences were requested in advance, and approved by her.

      She is such a liar that she even submitted a false contract to make herself look good in court. It did not, however, fool the judge. I had the original contract with both signed signatures. I “won” the first court case, but the judge offset my “winnings” by awarding her damages for changing the lock. When she left for Mexico, she said she didn’t have a key for the back door. Since that was the door I went in and out of with the dog, I decided to get a new lock for her. For $25, I put in a new deadbolt and gave one key to her daughter. The front door lock was never changed. She came back from Mexico, unannounced, AFTER telling me everything was covered, and only came with a back door key she originally told me she didn’t have. She then told the court she had to change the locks and put in a security system. Whether or not she did or made that up too, I have no idea, but when the court ordered her to return my lock and keys, she gave me her old lock.

      She’s clearly mentally ill. She’s mentally tortured and controlled her daughter, who owns the pet store in Ft. Bragg. By her own actions and by no one else is her credit ruined. She is vindictive and evil. I guess you’re trying to sell newspapers, but don’t know why you’d bother going after me and listening to this mad woman. Fortunately, I have lots of friends on the coast who know me and know of this situation and that has no bearing. It’s just horrifying to find out your picture is on the front page of a newspaper and lies are printed about you. So I initially wanted to sue to vindicate myself. All my friends have told me to let it go. No one puts any stock in this paper, apparently.

  3. Shakespeare October 20, 2010

    methinks the “lady Shelley” doth protest too much!

  4. Bruce Anderson October 24, 2010

    After doing some research, I discovered Shelly avoids the facts and introduces her own imaginings in lieu of same, all the while while insulting (and libeling) her victim. She didn’t lose three court judgements in Mendo for nothing. I’m sorry to hear about her son but I fail to see the relevance.

    • John November 26, 2010

      Go get her Bruce! The word “grifter” comes to mind regarding this loser. I’d love to see what she does up in Seattle!

  5. DARRYL FOX September 1, 2020


  6. DARRYL FOX September 13, 2020


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