Houseboat squatter headed to prison

A Mountain Home man found squatting on a houseboat parked at an area marina last year entered a guilty plea to the charges filed against him stemming from his unauthorized stay during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.

Thirty-five-year-old Christopher Alsup was sentenced to six years in prison with one to serve and five suspended on charges including residential burglary, theft of property, criminal mischief and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Alsup’s free room and board ended when a Baxter County deputy sheriff was called to Jordan Marina in September last year to check on suspected squatters who had taken up residence on one of the houseboats parked at the dock.

As the deputy made his way through the boat, he eventually located Alsup and a female asleep in a rear bedroom.

The deputy noted evidence the boat had been occupied, including dirty dishes and open food containers scattered about, lights left on and a stereo playing in the background.

Alsup admitted being on the boat for two days. He claimed it was unlocked when he made entry, and the deputy noted he had not seen signs of forced entry when he came through the front sliding door to checked on the unwanted guests.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Alsup is alleged to have told the deputy the couple had not stolen anything aboard the boat, but did admit to eating food the pair located.

The deputy also saw drug paraphernalia in two bags located in the bedroom. The female claimed ownership of the items, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Marina staff reported Alsup and the female were captured on video surveillance taking another boat out for a late afternoon spin on the lake the day before being found by the deputy squatting on the houseboat.

The owner of the houseboat is a resident of Paragould. When he was contacted, he said Alsup and the female did not have permission to be on his boat and told authorities he wanted to press charges.

Alsup was also ordered to pay $3,300 in restitution to the victim. The boat owner’s monetary outlay including paying to have the craft cleaned and the cost of linens and a mattress Alsup and his companion had used during their stay on the boat, which the owner discarded.

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