WATERVILLE — A man was stabbed Monday night on Carey Lane, near Betty Hovey’s house, and she is frightened for her children.

But the stabbing isn’t the only thing about the once-quiet neighborhood off Water Street in the city’s South End that makes Hovey uneasy.

Prostitution, drug use and violence also are frequent occurrences, she said.

“We have people who hang out, naked, on their porches,” Hovey said. “We don’t want to see that — we have little kids.”

City Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, lives two houses away from 41 Carey Lane, the house where the man police have identified as the suspected stabber lives. The stabbing itself occurred in the middle of the road outside the house, leaving the victim with serious wounds that required surgery.

The owner of 41 Carey Lane, John King of Vassalboro, could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Rancourt-Thomas calls the house a flop house, where people come and go all the time.

A few years ago after the city took the house because the taxes weren’t paid, Rancourt-Thomas urged fellow councilors to vote to tear it down. She said at the time it would continue to draw unsavory characters and be a source of trouble. She and one other councilor, Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, voted to raze it, and the city sold the house in 2011 for $18,000.

Rancourt-Thomas said this week not tearing it down was a mistake.

“It’s not the whole neighborhood, but when you have a history at certain houses, history repeats itself,” she said. “How much does it cost you to send a patrol officer down there for those calls? If the city has a chance to change something for a positive, the money’s not worth it.”

Police Chief Joseph Massey said Thursday in the past 12 months, police were called to 41 Carey Lane five times, including Monday’s stabbing. Two calls were medical-related and two were for unwanted people on the premises and disturbances.

Monday night, a 24-year-old man was stabbed in the lower abdomen with what investigators believe to have been a knife. The weapon has not been recovered, according to Massey.

Massey believed the victim, who was not cooperating with police, has been released from the hospital.

“My understanding is that he’s going to make a full recovery,” he said.

The investigation into the 9 p.m. stabbing continues and police have gathered additional information that points to the possibility the stabbing was in self-defense, Massey said.

“That’s why we are trying to locate the person we believe actually did the stabbing, to get his side of the story,” he said. “We suspect he’s obviously trying to avoid us. Now that we do have information that this could have been self-defense, it’s important he contacts us to give us his side of the story.”

He said the stabbing apparently was a result of a dispute over two women. The person who called police reported a fight between three or four men, but the women were not at the scene, Massey said.

FORECLOSURE PROBLEM

Rancourt-Thomas said if a house is worth saving, and can be sold to responsible people, she votes in favor of allowing the sale to new owners after a city foreclosure. But there have been times, she said, when a house is a detriment to the neighborhood and should be taken down. In fact, she said, a house near the site of the stabbing has been taken by the city for nonpayment of taxes and is slated to be razed this year.

“I’m an advocate that landlords should be responsible for their behavior,” Rancourt-Thomas said. “If police are getting called there all the time, the landlord should be fined.”

Carey Lane is a narrow one-way street jug-handle that opens and and empties out again onto Water Street. The mostly older homes are close together and driveways are narrow. Some people park on the street. Part of the neighborhood is tight-knit, with families who like and watch out for each other, according to residents.

The house where the stabbing occurred has had so many problems that Rancourt-Thomas called a meeting of South End residents, city officials and police in March to discuss issues, she said. At the time, Massey said police can’t help if they don’t know what’s happening and told those at the meeting it is important that people call police when they see bad things happening in the neighborhood.

Carey Lane residents said Thursday that police respond immediately when crimes are reported, but some neighbors are afraid to call police for fear of retribution from those causing the trouble.

“Police always come,” Hovey said. “It’s not that the police aren’t doing their job; they’re doing it and then some. They’re good guys but they don’t get paid enough to take this crap. You’ve got to call the police. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Enough is enough.”

‘WE NEED GOOD HOMES’

Hovey, who has three children, agrees with Rancourt-Thomas that the house at 41 Carey Lane should have been torn down.

“It has no yard. It has no value,” she said. “I think some of the houses need to be torn down and the neighbors need to get together and they need to rally together and say, ‘We need good homes.’ Those kinds of places almost incite criminal behavior.”

Hovey, a member of the South End Neighborhood Association, also attended the March meeting to discuss neighborhood problems. She said she moved to Carey Lane and has a wonderful landlord, and she would like to buy the house she lives in, but she doesn’t know if it’s worth it because of the criminal activity.

Cynthia Muniz, 29, also has three children, two in school and an infant.

She said the stabbing and other neighborhood crimes are “definitely concerning for us.”

The South End once had a police officer who was stationed there full-time, but budget cuts resulted in the loss of the position. Now, an officer is designated to the South End only part time.

“We bought this house three years ago and things were starting to get better,” she said. “It was toward the end of the South End Police Officer period. Since that ended, it’s definitely gone downhill.”

Danielle Lambert has two children and has lived on Carey Lane 13 years.

She said the problem, in large part, is that landlords do not sufficiently check prospective tenants’ backgrounds before renting to them.

“I have a 13-year-old and a 12-year-old, and a six-foot stockade fence. I’ve been here 13 years, but there’s never been anything like the stuff that’s gone on for the last two years,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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