Rather than comply with a foreclosure notice and allow a marshal to evict her from the home she loved at 55 Earle St., [Vincenza] Garcia took her own life on Oct. 1. And, in the eyes of her attorney, her story is emblematic of the devastation the foreclosure epidemic has inflicted on so many once-proud homeowners.
She was "a nice lady who was always working on her garden," said neighbor Phil Vetro. "Every time I'd see her, she'd be out there working."
But when the introductory "teaser" rate on her newly refinanced mortgage expired, Garcia, who lived alone and was by all accounts a private person, fell hopelessly behind. There were opportunities to dig out from under, or to at least delay, foreclosure as 2009 wore on, but she represented herself and failed to navigate the complex system.
The New York native, divorced since the 1970s, took out a $281,000 mortgage in June, 2006, from Sand Canyon Corp., which had formerly been known as Option One Mortgage Co.
When the 6.99 initial interest rate -- nearly 2 points higher than was available from other lenders -- rose to 9.1 percent in June, 2008, Garcia missed a $2,300 monthly payment, and with late fees, liens and other charges, and never caught up.
"It's a machine," Small said of the mortgage refinancing industry. "These people appraise your house for what they need, and the goal is to get the commission. They are kids in boiler rooms all over the country, who send a notary to your house with the papers.
"They'll tell you not to pay your mortgage that month because the new loan will be in effect by the end of it," Small said. "But these people are not your friends and they are not there to explain the paperwork.
"They are there to get you to sign, and by the time you realize that it is a variable rate you have no choice but to sign because you're already behind," he said.
The workout sheet in Garcia's court file shows that the fair market value of her home was $285,000 but her unpaid debt had climbed to $299,570. She had a negative equity of $14,000 in the property.
Greenspan's Body Count now stands at 119.