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March 15, 2013

Woman squatting in Knoxville's Sunsphere arrested

A Knoxville woman accused of squatting in the Sunsphere was arrested early Thursday morning after being pulled over in a blue BMW.

The bank that foreclosed on the property one year ago found a steel chain and padlock on the elevator to the golden, hexagonal truss structure earlier this week with several signs announcing "Private Property/Keep Out."

Knoxville police arrested Janet Mosshart on trespassing and burglary charges at the top of the vacant 266-foot-tall steel tower and booked her at 1:45 a.m. Thursday.

Police had initially intended to bombard the Sunsphere to evict Mosshart, but changed plans after the woman was spotted going on a late night 7-Layer Burrito run. Shortly after Mosshart's arrest, a Knoxville SWAT team broke through the padlocked elevator and entered the Sunsphere with search dogs. A confused wig salesman was also found living on the Sunsphere's observation deck.

Police said Mosshart had posted a sign on the Sunsphere saying the bank could not own the building and that "her parents' 1982 World's Fair attendance granted her exclusive rights to the property." Police said they begged to differ.

"I don't think she understands how property works," said Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Tinah Miller.

According to Mosshart, she was just trying to get a good seat for Boomsday.

"It's really comfortable," Mosshart told reporters. "I was hoping to watch the fireworks from up there without having to fight the crowds. In the meantime there are some great views. I can see seven Stephen A. Burroughs' billboards from here. You can even see all the way to Quentin Tarantino's ego. I could have done without the orange and white shag carpet though."

Mosshart's bond has been set at $2 million. She is set to face a judge on Tuesday.

Mosshart is well-known to East Tennessee law enforcement for her squatting activities. In 2011 she claimed ownership of the Lost Sea. In 2007 she was evicted by police after she was discovered living in Popcorn Sutton's beard.

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