Updated: November 07, 2019 10:57 AM
Created: November 06, 2019 07:12 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In August, a man who had just lost his home in a foreclosure sale blew up his house, killing himself. What he didn’t know is that he could have made tens of thousands of dollars.
His name was Randall Jackson. News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean traveled to Ontario, Canada, where Jackson’s surviving sister lives.
She says that if that information were made clear, Jackson would be alive today.
Caroline Jackson, Randal Jackson's sister: He was the closest person to me in my life so it's very difficult to go through this.
The Rochester fire chief says Jackson cut a gas line in his home and blew it up intentionally. Exactly one week before, his home was sold at a foreclosure auction for $80,000. The lien was about $44,000, and because banks aren’t allowed to take a dollar more than they’re owed, Jackson was entitled to the difference, almost $40,000
Caroline Jackson: He would be here today if he would have known that. I know he would be here today if he would have known he was getting $44,000. And I don't know why they didn't tell him.
The foreclosure document Jackson was given only says the surplus goes to the county. It doesn’t say anywhere that the homeowner is entitled to any profit.
When I contacted the Housing Council for this story and asked why the documents aren’t clear about the potential surplus, the council said in a statement, “Our goal is to keep clients from going into foreclosure. The vast majority of the homeowners that we see are upside down on their mortgages, so they would not be in this situation."
The Hogan Willig law firm in Buffalo says that in Erie County $12 million in surplus funds is "owed to former homeowners."
There were 21,000 foreclosure notices mailed to homeowners in Monroe County last year.
Caroline Jackson: What you indicated in your article, $12 million is sitting there from previous foreclosure owners. I just can't believe that this is happening. I hope no one else took their life because of it. I hope no one else will ever do that. Unfortunately, it was my brother who did it.
The real estate family that bought Randal Jackson’s home at auction had to put $10,000 down in deposit.
The explosion voided the sale.
Wednesday that real estate family donated that $10,000 in name of Randal Jackson, the man who lost his home and his life.
"We hope we have honored the loss of Randal Jackson today," Sal Salafia said at his bird store in Webster this afternoon.
The Salafia real estate team, gave away thousands of dollars his family could have just kept.
This starts in August when the Rochester Fire Department said Jackson, having just lost his home to foreclosure cut a gas line and blew it up with him inside. Weeks later, Salafia and his family decided to donate the money they put down on the home to four organizations that help families who lose their homes.
Lollypop Farm, Open Door Mission, Center for Youth and Goodwill of the Finger Lakes which runs a help hotline each got a check for $2,500 in the name of Randal Jackson.
"And to know his legacy is going to go on in a positive spin, that's what I really wanted to do today," Salafia said.
"We hope this will promote people to reach out when they need help," said Marlisa Post of 211 Lifeline. "And to call a resource like 211 Lifeline and get the help they need."
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