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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. – Days before moving into a newly renovated and furnished house, a Shelby County woman says she discovered a stranger had already moved into the home.

“I went there to let a cleaning crew in, and I kept saying my key isn’t working,” said Laquita Leatherwood.

Laquita Leatherwood said a woman she had never met before had changed the locks at the house on Old Hickory Road and parked her car in the garage. She said the woman came outside and told her she owned the home.

“She said her uncle left her the house,” Leatherwood said. “I was already on the phone with the police.”

When sheriff’s deputies got there, they took Pamela Hopkins, 55, into custody. They said she told them her uncle had left the house to her in his will but could not provide any paperwork to prove the home belonged to her.

They said Hopkins also told her a man who was painting the house gave her the keys, and she had moved in a few days ago.

Leatherwood said she had no idea how she got the key.

“If my kids or husband had been with me, it could have been bad. My husband has a license to carry,” said Leatherwood.

Leatherwood said Hopkins not only made herself at home but also used sage to cleanse the house and cleaned up after the construction workers.

“Oh, she cleaned up so good. It didn’t make any sense,” said Leatherwood. “She didn’t steal anything. She was like, it’s my house.”

Neighbors saw all the deputies on their street but had no idea what was happening at the house.

“I think that’s pretty messed up that somebody can take your house, but this is kind of the world we live in today. If someone feels like they can take advantage of you, they will,” said Bryant Boone, one of the neighbors.

Pamela Hopkins

Hopkins is charged with burglary of a building. She was released on her own recognizance.