More River Property Woes

REGION 8 -- Yet again, another couple contacted K8 News about a very similar situation with their property along the Spring River. They too for years have thought they owned their property and just recently learned they never have and now probably never will.

Billy and Pat Mann of Lake City bought their property in the Cherokee Village city limits in 1995. The land they used for hunting was paid off in October of 2005, after making 10 years of payments to the Spring River Beach Club.

After paying the property off, they had to wait nearly a year to receive their warranty deed to the property, but at that point they quickly realized it was too late. They got a letter shortly after that their property had been foreclosed because according to them, Wayne Watkins, the owner of the Spring River Beach Club, had taken a second mortgage out on the land and wasn't making the payments. The property they thought was theirs had already been auctioned off and re-sold by the bank.

"I hope he has to pay for what he's done because people go up there all their life and pay for land. They get old enough to retire and then hey, no more land, it's gone," says Billy Mann.

This story is just really starting to come into focus. We're going to talk to an attorney and see just where all these property owners stand legally, and if they have any grounds for a civil lawsuit against Watkins. We'll have that story Sunday night on Nightbeat.

Also, new information surfaced Thursday night regarding the couple we introduced you to last week. You may remember, Eugene and Shannon Hovis from Blytheville. They recently discovered that the property they've been making payments towards for years was owned by Wayne Watkins and is being foreclosed due to failure to pay years of property taxes.

Thursday night, the Spring River Beach Club, who hasn't been commenting on this situation so far, randomly sent a fax into our newsroom. It included 2 real estate contracts for the Hovis' 2 properties. We immediately noticed that these looked different from the contracts Ms. Hovis showed us last week. After we contacted her with this information, she said that those contracts were not the original deal signed.

We will continue to investigate this information, as the story keeps developing.