Melissa Berkelhammer is a socialite and has a classy pedigree. She has degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. A social butterfly, she was a regular fixture at charity events around New York City. But some people say this socialite is also a squatter.
Julianne Michelle is an actress who became friends with Melissa. One day Julianne says Melissa asked if she could stay at her apartment because her’s was being renovated.
"I knew her from the charity circuit,” Julianne said. “We'd say hello. She seemed pleasant enough."
So she let Melissa move into her swanky apartment on the “Avenue of Avenues” - Fifth Avenue, with a view of Central Park. Woody Allen used to live in the building.
“I figured two or three weeks, what's the worst that can happen?” Julianne said.
That was in March 2014. Fifteen months later, Melissa’s still there! And get this, her elderly mother moved in, too!
Julianne and her mother, Jocelyn, told INSIDE EDITION’s Les Trent they've been trying to evict the Berkelhammers for months.
“It's been an absolute nightmare,” Jocelyn said. “They refuse to leave. They have to live in an Upper East Side apartment with a doorman.”
Trent asked, “How much stuff does she have at your place?”
“A lot,” Julianne explained. “I have never seen anyone with more designer shoes, hand bags or clothes. She has about 50 bags in luggage and portable wardrobes. I lock myself in my bedroom. I feel so confined to that space. I can't even use my living room or my kitchen. She's sort of taken over everything with her belongings and her clothes.
As if that isn't bad enough, Julianne says the mother/daughter duo have relentless arguments over money.
"Oh my God! You told me I was going to be so… You told me I was going to be so rich!” Melissa can be heard yelling at her mother in an audio recording. I can't take you anymore. … I want my $20 million!”
In another recording, Julianne’s frustrated mother begs her unwelcome guests to leave, saying, “We've given you notice eight months ago. Now you've got to get out this Friday. Period!”
So why can't Julianne and her mother just change the locks? Believe it or not, the unwanted guests are protected by so-called squatters' rights which are intended to protect tenants. But the law was never intended to enable alleged squatters to live in an occupied apartment.
INSIDE EDITION producer Joe Enoch encountered Melissa as she was on her way to dinner.
He asked, “Why haven't you left the apartment? They asked you to leave months ago. Why are you still there?”
“We're resolving that privately and that's all I can say,” she said.
He then asked, “When are you going to leave?”
She said, “Within the next couple of weeks or a month.”
Julianne and her mother both wish the socialite can turn her life around - just not in their apartment!
“I just want my life back together. I want my own space again,” Julianne said.
Melissa is officially now in violation of a judicial order, if she doesn’t get out on her own, Marshals 'will' come and evict her.
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