This is truly one of the more disturbing and bizarre criminal cases of the year. Kathy Rowe, 53, was shouldering a huge load with a severely disabled daughter and ill husband. She not only worked full time but slept in a chair in her daughter’s room every night. She was such an extraordinary mother that, in 2006, was picked as one of San Diego’s 50 best moms and mother of the year in 2007. She is now looking at jail time for how she decided to get a house that she felt was meant for her family.
When a house opened up in the Carmel Valley neighborhood that she loved, she quickly visited it and found it had all of the elements that she wanted: single story, private garden, and even a pool. The problem is that another couple bought the house. Rowe offered the couple $100,000 more than the $779,000 they paid, but the Rices never responded. Most would leave it there but Rowe was a woman on a mission. She started to carry out a series of dangerous pranks to drive the Rice family from the home.
Jerald Rice discovered that his wife, Janice Ruhter, had been listed with her address and photograph on an Internet sex site. Rowe pretended to be Ruhter and told men: “Adult entertainment of all types when my husband is not home,” the ads said. “Not for the faint of heart. Come see me during the day while my husband is at work and we can get our freak on.”
Men started to appear at the house and it was discovered later that Rowe was pretending to be Rice and enticing them. “Just stop by any Monday-Friday 9am-3pm” she wrote, “I like the element of surprise.” When one man asked for an address, Rowe gave him the Rice’s address. The man spotted Rice but Rowe told him not to worry. “Once in a while my husband drops by during the day to see if he can catch me in the act. He knows about my men…. Are you into threesomes?” She also reportedly stopped the mail of the Rice family around Christmas and ordered a torrent of books and magazines to be delivered.
Thousands of items were ordered in their name. Then someone sent Valentine’s Day cards to the couple’s female neighbors. One husband confronted Rice with a card reading “Thinking of you.”
The FBI finally interviewed Rowe — just one year after she lost the house bid. She finally admitted to the pranks, though “pranks” hardly capture the act of sending strange men to a woman’s home during the day. She told one man that “I love to be surprised and have a man just show up at the door and force his way in the door on me, totally taking me while I say no.” She added that she particularly liked anal sex and sent the man a picture of Ruhter.
Rowe apologized to Rice and Ruhter and reached a confidential, out-of-court financial settlement. She still faced two felony counts of solicitation of rape and sodomy and misdemeanor counts of harassment and using another’s personal information. After a trial judge threw out the solicitation charges (on the controversial notion that the email exchanges were for consensual sex), an appeals court reinstated the charges.
Rowe is fighting to stay out of jail pending trial on the grounds that if she goes to prison, there will be no one to take care of her cancer-stricken husband and her daughter.
Truly a sad story.
Source: LA Times
31 thoughts on ““Mother of the Year” Faces Jail Over Bizarre Pranks In Attempt To Force Couple To Sell Home”
We are all too vulnerable to this type of threat. This woman should have begun searching for another suitable home instead of carrying out a campaign of harassment. Still, she should receive some leniency as it appears she’s under a lot of stress.
Obviously needs psychiatric help. Maybe she kept going for a dream. When she found it everything blew up! Don’t consider removing children, it devastates both of them.
Mind you, I don’t think $100k over on a $780k house is strange or unusual; some buy & sell for profit & you would need it to be at least that much higher to get attention.
Fair comment, Marsha.
Traveling Limey, I inherited a house from my mother that I wanted to keep. I received a hundred cards and letters from people who hoped that I needed quick cash and would accept a low offer. I replied to none of them. I had too much to do at the time. Good thing none of them tried to have me raped.
I suspect that the Ruhters saw something disordered in the letter they received and did not want to engage with Ms. Rowe and encourage her. If someone has the money to pay $100k over the fair market price they can afford to find an equally nice home. Just making such an offer was strange.
Yes, well the Ruhters did not answer Ms Rowe’s communication. That’s where it all started. A simple “No thanks. We want to keep this house” would have lessened Ms Rowe’s negative enthusiasm.
Richard, Your explanation is a possibility. But the vile steps this woman took make my explanation MUCH more likely, don’t you think?
paulette, I was paid good money by very smart people who depended on me to see things as they are. Millions of dollars were in the balance on civil lawsuits. My job was simple, to get the truth amongst lies and liars. Although I made a good living, the satisfaction of seeking and finding truth for a living is something for which I am always thankful. People who are frauds have such a difficult time w/ me. People stand naked in front of me, whether they like it or know it.
on 1, September 15, 2014 at 10:16 Paulette
~ Without sounding too philosophical, I’m reminded of the quotation that says: “We don’t’ see things as they are–we see them as we are.”
Truer words, Paulette…
I’ve observed people who are so jaded and have sunk so low, that it is too painful to see people as they really are.They are only able to the worst in everyone. Perhaps deep down they realize how low and vile their own behavior is and assign that behavior to everyone to make themselves feel better.
It may be desperation rather than entitlement. If, for whatever reason, she got it into her head that moving into this perfect house would make everything right for her and her family then almost any action can be rationalized. I don’t know her and don’t know the extent of the daily hardships she suffered, so have no clue if this is what happened. But people in desperate circumstances can latch on to strange things as being the answer to their problems.
Paulette – there are bad people in this world, including bad mothers. The stories that wreck me the most are those where mothers hurt their kids. Having a disabled child does not preclude the mother from having poor character.
I have a family member who was the most wonderful, devoted mother to a disabled child. But not every child is as fortunate in a mother.
My question is, was she a good and kind person who had some sort of breakdown, and acted out of character, or was this present in her makeup all along?
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