updated 10/22/2004 1:34:48 PM ET 2004-10-22T17:34:48

A woman came home from vacation to find a stranger living there, wearing her clothes, changing utilities into her name and even ripping out carpet and repainting a room she didn’t like, authorities said.

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Douglas County authorities say they can’t explain why Beverly Valentine, 54, broke into an empty home and started acting like it was her own.

During the 2½ weeks the owner, Beverly Mitchell, was on vacation in Greece, Valentine allegedly redecorated the ranch home, ripping up carpet and taking down the owner’s pictures and replacing them with her own.

Mitchell was a complete unknown to Valentine, said Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Stan Copeland. He said he had no idea how Valentine knew Mitchell was gone.

“In 28 years, I’ve never seen something this strange,” Copeland said.

Valentine was being held in Douglas County Jail on a $25,000 bond, Copeland said. If convicted, she could face one to 20 years in prison. Copeland said Friday that he believed Valentine did not have a lawyer.

The case came to light when Mitchell, who lived alone, returned home Oct. 4 to find the lights on and a strange car parked in the driveway. Mitchell called police, who went in and found Valentine, who at first pretended she was renting the home.

Later, Copeland said, she admitted she broke into the house with a shovel and was squatting there. She was charged with burglary.

Authorities found a gun and $23,000 worth of Mitchell’s jewelry in Valentine’s car.

Valentine had the electricity switched over to her name and moved in a washer and dryer and her dog.

Copeland said she was even wearing some of Mitchell’s clothes.

“There’s a lot of people saying, ’What?”’ Copeland said.

Valentine was asked what to do with the washer and dryer she moved in, and Valentine said she didn’t care, so police will leave it up to Mitchell what to do with them, Copeland said.

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