At the age of 90, Addie Polk found herself in foreclosure this week, about to be forced from the home she's lived in for nearly 40 years.
So, with a gun in her hand, the Akron widow apparently shot herself in the chest Wednesday afternoon as deputies were knocking on her door with eviction papers in hand.
While a nation reels in financial crisis from years of mortgage abuse, Polk is recovering at Akron General Medical Center, awaiting word on where she will live when she's released.
Meanwhile, city leaders say Polk has become Akron's ''poster child'' for victims of predatory lenders.
''I think this is a case where we need to step in and help this lady if she is so desperate to shoot herself because she can't pay her mortgage,'' Akron Councilman Marco Sommerville said.
Court records show Polk took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage just four years ago for $45,620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in Cuyahoga Falls. She took out a line of credit that same day for $11,380.
Her La Croix Avenue home was appraised by Summit County in 2004 at $31,230.
The Countrywide branch did not return a call for comment Thursday.
Polk essentially owed the same $45,000 when the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) filed for foreclosure on her home in 2007. Fannie Mae assumed the mortgage from Countrywide.
Following foreclosure this year, Polk's six-room, 101-year-old home was bought by Fannie Mae at sheriff's auction for $28,000.
Her house now belongs to the lender.
Summit County sheriff's deputies say Polk ignored multiple notes and letters leading up to Wednesday's eviction. She also ignored the foreclosure action filed in court.
It wasn't until Tuesday that she called the sheriff's office in disbelief. The next day was eviction day.
''I'm positive she believed the deputies were going to come in, clean out the house and set her and her things on the curb, because they did that decades ago. But that's not what happens nowadays,'' sheriff's Lt. Kandy Fatheree said.
''I'm sure she had to be thinking back to the Great Depression when people were set out on the street. She had to be scared to death.''
Deputies Dave Bailey, Jason Beam and Don Fatheree went to the home about 1 p.m. Wednesday to meet with a Fannie Mae representative and escort Polk from the house. They said they had no idea the woman was 90 years old.
The deputies' knocks were unanswered, and they were about to leave because the Fannie Mae representative failed to show. Then, they heard a banging noise coming from the home's second floor.
Next-door neighbor Robert Dillon heard it, too. More bangs followed.
Dillon borrowed a neighbor's ladder and climbed through Polk's second-floor bathroom window and walked into her bedroom. She was lying on her side, a gun next to her on the bed.
''I'm thinking to myself, 'Why does Mrs. Polk got a gun?' '' Dillon said. ''After looking around, I touched her shoulder and saw the blood and I said, 'Shucks, she done shot herself.' ''
Dillon, 62, shouted to the deputies, who alerted Akron EMS. Polk apparently shot herself more than once with a small-caliber handgun, police said.
Polk and her late husband, Robert, a Goodrich retiree, moved into the home in 1970. He died in 1995, but Polk continued to live independently, but alone, still driving her late model Chevrolet to the grocery store and church.
She appeared to be struggling financially, Dillon said, but he said she never spoke of the foreclosure action looming for more than a year.
She had no children of her own and few visitors, he said.
''She didn't need no help. She got around good,'' he said.
It is unclear how Polk used the loan money. Dillon said he didn't notice any work being done on the property, and deputies said her front porch was soft from years of neglect.
''Where'd the money go?'' Dillon asked.
Sommerville said he is working with the city and the county to assist Polk with housing, once she is released from the hospital.
He said the city has been awarded more than $8 million in federal grants in the wake of the mortgage crisis to help cope with the crush.
Sommerville said Polk's fate humanizes the problem for the rich and poor. And he urged those facing foreclosure to seek assistance through various local and county agencies.
''It's a sad situation,'' he said. ''She's the poster child for this foreclosure crisis we are facing.'' ______________________________________
Phil Trexler can be reached at email@example.com.
Posted by JACK 04:57 PM, 10/02/2008
How terrible. This story should be printed out and mailed to every single Ohio Congressperson. Hell, send it to EVERY SINGLE Congressperson. These are the types of people who should be helped -- NOT Wall Street.
This woman is 90 -- lived in her house 40 years and is about to be tossed to the street. It's not unusual for adults like this to suffer some financial problems for whatever reason. And it's unheard of, per se, for them to ask for help because they are embarrassed, compared to younger folks.
This is a terrible story. I hope this poor woman makes it.
Great points Jack, _________________________
expect to hear from the wisdom rich people that will say she was a deadbeat and how they don't want the government to bail her out.
They usually waste no time in pouring that sludge down the drain. If they stick to their principles and history they'll start posting anytime.
Posted by john 05:20 PM, 10/02/2008
Everyone email this link to the story to your Congressmen! This is sad times, people, sad times!
Posted by john 05:22 PM, 10/02/2008
Email above link to your Congressmen! Do it now!
Posted by Eric 05:40 PM, 10/02/2008
This is very sad that this lady tried to take her life. What is just as sad is some dirty mortgage loan officer gave her a loan worth more than the value of her home.
Posted by stephanie 06:31 PM, 10/02/2008
This is the sadest story....WE NEED CHANGE!! VOTE THIS NOV!