Thieves collect thousands in rent after stealing, leasing north St. Louis home


by Staff

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 12 at 7:17 AM

 (KMOV) – Two thieves are accused of stealing a house in north St. Louis, then collecting thousands of dollars after renting it out to a couple.

Dwayne Ellis and Bertha Williams had no idea anything was fishy when they agreed to rent the house for $650 per month until the real owner returned six months into their “lease."

The actual owner of the north St. Louis house was living out of town following the foreclosure of this home earlier in the year.

“She went to the house and found, while it was supposed to be vacant, there as another family living there, so she contacted county police," Detective Andrew Soll said.

Police believe Clay Winston and Todd Edwards noticed the home was vacant and took over the occupancy. They allegedly forged an affidavit stating the actual owner granted them possession of the house.

They then listed the house for rent and collected thousands that they had no right to legally receive.

Winston and Edwards were charged with forgery and stealing.

“They broke in, changed the locks to locks they provided and since they had keys to the house, they were able to dupe the other woman and her family,” Soll added.

The most important place to check the legitimacy of a rental property is the assessor’s property records for the county it’s in. The actual property owner should be listed in the records.

Click the video player to see more important red flags that can be clues that the person renting the property is not legit.