CLAYTON, N.C. — Acres of family land were taken with the stroke of a pen. The loss to a local woman is nearly $1 million -- the victim of an illegal land sale.
Investigators said she will get the land back, but they have not found the thieves.
Myrtle Hawkins owns 15 prime acres in Clayton, located just off Highway 42. The land includes an area of mobile homes, which she rents.
Somehow, some people who she rents to got their names on her land deed. Now, the Johnston County Sheriff's Office is calling it a forgery case.
Hawkins said her land deed sitting in the Johnston County Courthouse is a fake.
Hawkins learned of the problem when she went to pay her taxes Friday. The register of deeds told her some of her taxes had already been paid.
"I was shocked, I was speechless," she said. "I wouldn't have dreamed they would have done it."
She then found someone else signed her name on the deed. That means she signed over the property.
55:15 "someone would forge my name is terrible, I'm too old to go through that turmoil." 55:24
This is the signature on the deedlet's compare it with Myrtle's.
00:57 "I can't explain it but I know its not my handwriting, it almost looks like if it were written by a lefthander." 1:05
Myrtle is a righthander.
The people listed on the deed happen to live on a trailer on Hawkins' land.
They did not want to go on camera, but told WRAL that they did not forge the signature.
Sheriff's investigators wonder how a Raleigh real estate attorney listed on the deed let this happen.
"What we're investigating is how easily this seemed to have been done," said.
The people who forged the the deed also used it to get a $50,000 loan from a bank, using the land as colleratal. Investigators said they do have a suspect in mind, but have not made any arrests.