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Two arrested after squatting in doctor's house in southeast Houston

HOUSTON – A woman accused of squatting in a vacant building in southeast Houston was arrested this morning along with the man she lives with for allegedly assaulting a neighbor.

Denise Eckford, 36 and Darryl Griffin, 51 were arrested outside the house located at 4907 Griggs Road for misdemeanor assault.

They allegedly attacked a neighbor, Mark Schatz, who went to the house Thursday morning to clean up trash and debris in the yard.

“I was actually assaulted by both of them.” Schatz said. “A little roughhousing, pushing, shoving, knocking down. The lady tried to back over me with her car. Not a pleasant thing.”

On Wednesday, Eckford shoved Channel Two reporter Phil Archer out of the building when he went there looking for the owner.

According to neighbors Eckford and Griffin moved into the house in March. It's owned by Dr. Canaan Harris, who had put it up for sale. Harris learned the couple was living there this week and had begun eviction proceedings.

Deputy Constables with Harris County Precinct 7 warned Eckford not to return to the house after she is released from jail.

Authorities said Denise Eckford was notified not to come back on property. If she returns on property she will be charged with criminal trespassing.

Griffin paroled out of prison in 2014, after serving 20 years of a 99-year sentence for murder.

Eckford has been in and out of jail on misdemeanor charges, records show.

There was some shoving Wednesday when KPRC Channel 2 reporter Phil Archer tried to ask her why she felt empowered to simply take over the property.

The owner, Dr. Canaan Harris, only learned this week that she'd moved in. He'd just started eviction proceedings against her.

But this Thursday, Houston police arrested her and Griffin for assault, and took them to jail. And Eckford was warned not to come back once she's released.

“Denise Eckford was notified not to come back on property. If she returns on property she will be charged with criminal trespassing,” Sgt. Angie De La Rosa-Harris County Constable, Precinct 7 said.

Griffin was released from prison on parole in 2014, after serving 20 years of a 99-year sentence for murder. His parole runs until 2088.

Eckford has been in and out of jail on misdemeanor charges.

Harris discovered alterations have been made to the interior of the building.

“Oh yeah, they're remodeling,” De La Rosa-Harris said.

Eckford told neighbors she planned to open an ice house in the building, claiming she'd obtained it through an obscure Texas statute known as adverse possession.

A copy of a tax permit to operate a business at the address was discovered inside after her arrest.