Readers offer to help woman whose messy property landed her in jail

Linda Ruggles is happy to be out of jail and back home. Friends from Goose Creek, Corey Ireland (Left) and Timmy Rowe (Right),do yard work on her front yard Thursday afternoon.

Contractors and others in the community are pledging to help a Mount Pleasant woman whose messy property landed her in jail.

Linda Ruggles spent the past six days locked up in the Charleston County jail because she was too poor to maintain her home or pay the $480 fine she received after neighbors complained about her junk-filled property. She said she couldn't afford to pay the fine because she spent all of her money keeping her Longview Road ranch out of foreclosure.

Ruggles was released from the jail early today and returned home with no clear idea what she would do about her property. Packages of shingles still sit on the roof, unopened, because she can't afford to have them installed. And her driveway is littered with scrap metal she collects to help pay her bills.

Help, however, may be on the way. After reading of her plight in The Post and Courier, a local landscaper, a contractor and others contacted the newspaper offering financial assistance or a willingness to work on Ruggles' home for free.

"I'm really overwhelmed," Ruggles said. "I'm so thankful and appreciative people want to help."

Ruggles said her photography business hit the skids in 2008 when the economy went into a nose dive. Jobs dried up and she fell behind on her mortgage and taxes. She lost her studio in a foreclosure and then faced the possibility of losing her Longview Road ranch home as well. The house fell into disrepair as she shoveled every cent toward the mortgage and back taxes, she said.

The town got involved after neighbors complained about the state of her property. Officials insist they bent over backward to work with Ruggles and help her avoid jail, but she rebuffed their efforts and ignored court dates and warnings.

Check back with postandcourier.com for updates on this story.