Woman who says she has COVID-19 evicted from Memphis home


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis woman who says she has COVID-19 now has another problem. She doesn’t have a home.

Leslie Nelson’s entire life was tossed on her front lawn Thursday. The 56-year-old was evicted from her house on Joslyn Street in Raleigh.

According to her friends, the men who kicked her out had no concern for her health or where she was going to go. Police officers stood watch to enforce the removal.

What happened compelled a host of community activists to take action. They came to help Nelson pack after seeing posts about the eviction on social media.

“A dozen people have showed up, dedicating their time, potentially putting themselves in harm’s way of COVID to do the right thing,” activist Hunter Demster said.

Things took a violent turn when a process server took an antique rifle out of Nelson’s house and said he was taking it to his car. Nelson’s supporters stood in his way and tried to stop him.

At one point, Nelson herself tried to get it back, and the server swung the rifle around right in front of one of the police officers. 

The heated situation finally de-escalated when the server said he would return the rifle before he left. He claimed it was his right to temporarily hold on to it.

“Just absurd behavior,” activist Marissa Kizer said.

Nelson says she was evicted over thousands of dollars in medical debt she never knew existed. She says it belonged to her mother-in-law who technically still owns the property but passed away years ago and left a number of things to be worked out in probate court.

“It’s infuriating,” Demster said, “Collecting debt from a deceased person is more important than putting an elderly woman who is recovering from COVID out on the streets, and that’s what they’re saying. That’s what they did!”

Nelson went to the hospital Thursday night. She said the ordeal made her so upset she started having chest pains.

Her friends say they will find her a place to stay and put all her belongings in storage for the time being. 

WREG reached out to the attorney who represents the estate, but we have not heard back.

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