The House Guest From Hell

On April 16, Mr. Tratner’s mother instant-messaged him and told him to call his other brother in New York. There had been an emergency.

 “We tried to clean the blood in the bathroom,” said Ms. Gilmore. “We got the majority of the stuff cleared with a shovel.”

When Mr. Tratner returned to his apartment—he wasn’t able to get a flight out of London for 14 hours—he found a scene of utter destruction. Nearly all the contents of the apartment had been thrown to the floor. An antique marble gas lamp that had been in his family for generations had been broken into pieces, an antique clock destroyed. The living room sofa was in the bathtub. All the windows had been broken. The insides of the toilet had been ripped out and the apartment had flooded; the shower fixtures had also been yanked from the wall. Mr. Tratner’s computer had been destroyed. There was a metal antenna that had been driven into the hardwood floor, and the electrical outlets had been torn out. The gas stove had been dislodged. All the light fixtures had been shattered. And there was blood, tons of it, everywhere—smeared on the kitchen cabinets, the walls, the doors, the mattresses.

“He put his head through the medicine cabinet mirror,” said Mr. Tratner. There was blood on Mr. Tratner’s dumbbells from where John had used them to try to shatter the windows.

By the time The Observer came to Mr. Tratner’s apartment, a hazmat team had already been through to clean up most of the blood, and Mr. Tratner had gotten the windows replaced and cleaned up the debris. “I had renter’s insurance that was attached to my car insurance, but then I switched car insurance and I didn’t realize my renter’s insurance didn’t transfer,” Mr. Tratner said. So he’s on the hook for, he estimates, $10,000 to $15,000 worth of damages to the apartment, plus his personal effects.

But there were some things John didn’t touch. There was blood on the TV in the living room, but it was left intact, as was a table of Mr. Tratner’s framed photographs. And John’s clothes and Prada shoes are still in the closet in Mr. Tratner’s second bedroom.

“At 2:45 [a.m.], the police said they saw a rifle inside the apartment,” said Ms. Gilmore, the neighbor. “The cop told me I’d get shot if I went inside. But he never had a rifle. They brought him out on a stretcher and he was in the ambulance for one and a half hours.” They took him to New York Hospital in Flushing, where he was intubated and handcuffed and foot-cuffed to the bed. The cops still thought he was Mr. Tratner.

“I’m glad it didn’t make the media because people would have thought it was me,” said Mr. Tratner. Eventually he was able to clear everything up; John has since been transferred to a city-run psychiatric hospital.  “He’s all by himself and very afraid. The first thing I said to him was, ‘Are you okay?’”

Mr. Tratner is not going to press charges. Kita is still scared to go in the kitchen.


The House Guest From Hell