Sharafat Khan, co-owner of a million-dollar mansion in suburban Houston, has spent the past six months living in his own front yard after his wife kicked him out of the house and changed the locks.
The 69-year-old’s health is deteriorating, and neighbors in his Seabrook, Tex., community fear he’ll meet his demise on the nicely manicured lawn.
“He’s wearing the same clothing, it’s dirty,” neighbor Debbie Scoggins told NBC TV affiliate KPRC. “He has no bathroom facilities, no shoes.”
“The weather is starting to get colder,” said Laurel Stout, who lives across the street. “He’s very frail, he can’t even walk. I’m afraid he is going to die out here in his yard.”
How did it come to this? Depends on who you ask.
Khan — who claims to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure — said a spousal argument got him unexpectedly banished from his home in the Galveston Bay community. Police told KPRC that they’ve responded to the residence for domestic disputes as many as 30 times in the past six months. It’s unclear whether all those altercations occurred after Khan ended up squatting on his front lawn.
Khan’s 30-year-old son, Zain, wrote in a Facebook post cited by the Houston Chronicle that his father has a long history of spousal abuse.
“My dad has abused my mom, emotionally as well as physically,” he wrote. “He hit my mom many times and as recently as a few years ago was in jail for domestic violence.”
“We are ashamed that my father has caused all this problem and hate toward my mom,” Zain Khan added.
Court records confirm that Sharafat Khan has a history of abuse, according to KHOU:
Harris County Criminal Court records show that Khan was arrested for domestic violence in 2008 and civil court records show his wife received a protective order in December 2014 and that she filed for divorce in June. She’s also asked for multiple restraining orders. Records show that a final judgment has not yet been signed.
Police told KPRC that Khan has a right to remain in his front yard and they can’t force his wife — identified by the Chronicle as Dr. Shahnaz Khan — to let her husband inside the residence.
“They’re married so it’s community property,” Detective Tim Dohr of the Lakeview Police Department, which oversees policing in the neighborhood, told the Chronicle. “One has just as much right as the other to be there. We can’t make him leave, which is her wish, and we can’t really force her to do anything with regard to him.”
Reached by KPRC, Dr. Khan said her domestic dispute is a private matter and declined to comment further.
Despite owning half the couple’s mansion, Sharafat Khan doesn’t have access to money. He spends his nights sleeping on the front porch, wrapped in a white sheet. During the day, KPRC reported, he seeks shade from the hot Texas sun under trees in the yard. He told CBS TV affiliate KHOU that he is “really weak.”
“She doesn’t want me to have any sort of comfort,” Khan, his voice barely audible, his face covered in a thick white beard, told KPRC.
While Khan lives outside, with no access to food, his wife, a physician, has placed a sign on the front door asking people not to feed her husband, according to KHOU. The sign warns that piles of food have become infested with maggots in the past.
“If you want to feed him, take him to your house,” the sign says. “If you want to, you can keep him at your house. Thanks for your sympathy, but do not bring anything on this property,”
The warning hasn’t stopped neighbors from making periodic supply drops that include pillows, blankets, crackers and soft drinks, according to KPRC. Neighbors said the pillows and blankets are usually confiscated by Khan’s wife.
Why not file for divorce?
Khan told KPRC he doesn’t have the money to initiate proceedings. The station said a source claimed that Khan’s wife refuses to file for religious reasons.
Khan has another theory: “She doesn’t want to hand over half her fortune,” he told KPRC.
Family members told the station they’ve tried to assist Khan, but he refuses their help. “They’ve spoken with social workers and he’s been in and out of certain facilities but often leaves against medical advice,” the station reported.
Adult Protective Services told KPRC that the agency can’t force someone into their care.
Asked by KHOU why he doesn’t give up and seek shelter elsewhere for now, the embattled homeowner offered a defiant answer.
He said he wants his wife “to realize whatever she is doing she’s doing bad. People will know, the neighbors and everything else. People will ask her, put her down. Let her know what you’re doing to your husband.”
This post has been updated.