Monday, December 13, 2010
A Family's Story: Foreclosure result of small misfortunes piling up
By MARK HARPER, STAFF WRITER
DELTONA -- Most people going into foreclosure don't want to talk publicly about it with a newspaper reporter. But Daniel Muriel -- a 55-year-old former Marine sergeant who served in Vietnam -- doesn't mind.
Life was comfortable when he first moved to Deltona in 1995. Both he and his wife Rosa worked. They had a young son, Ezequiel, together and several older children from previous marriages. They had a fixed-rate mortgage from a bank on a four-bedroom home with 1,700 square feet.
They went out to eat twice a month. They took trips: camping in Key West, visiting family in New York and Texas, venturing off to Maine and the Smoky Mountains.
Muriel talks about this as he flips through a stack of family photos. "We used to go to St. Augustine like a religion," he said. "We used to be able to take vacations."
In 2001, he was found to be permanently disabled, unable to work. While in Vietnam, Muriel had been exposed to Agent Orange, he said, and he has suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and degenerative joint disease.
His income was limited to a Social Security check. Later, his wife -- a hospital supervisor -- got sick from the stress and had to leave that position. She now works a lower-paying job in child care.
The family started missing mortgage payments. One thing led to another, and facing foreclosure from a bank, they agreed to refinance with a private lender, raising their payments to $1,900 monthly. When that started looking like a mistake, they hired a lawyer, paid him $3,000, but got nowhere.