MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Residents in the Dalraida area of Montgomery are relieved knowing that the man who wreaked havoc and incited fear in their neighborhood for years is now facing serious time behind bars.
Jason Clark, 45, stalked his neighbors, poisoned lawns and even made death threats.
Those who live around him are commending prosecutors and investigators for helping put a stop to Clark's "evil and mean" ways. They say he went out of his way to constantly terrorize the entire neighborhood and they're thankful that peace has returned to their community.
For Joe Gross, it's not easy to return to his former neighborhood.
"I lost my home. I lost my dog," he said. "I don't even come over here because it's just got such horrible memories."
Gross gave his house on South Georgetown Drive to his church to get away from Jason Clark, who lived next door.
He moved to Pensacola two years ago because he could no longer live next to Clark and his threats. He couldn't sell the home because Clark harassed the realtors.
"He assaulted me in the street. He continued to threaten me and tell me that he was going to get me and that I better enjoy life while I could," Gross said. "It was horrible living there."
Gross donated his house to his parish and Montgomery Catholic High to be able to leave the neighborhood.
He says Clark killed his grass and plants by spraying chemicals.
"I really enjoyed being out in my yard and working in the yard, then after he sprayed the chemicals, my dog developed nerve damage and I eventually had to have her put to sleep," Gross added.
Montgomery officials say Clark made his own home a fortress as he made life miserable for everyone around him, starting back in 2009. He put up an eyesore of a fence that is painted orange and riddled with "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" signs. Dense foliage covers the lawn and cameras and spotlights are placed at the corners of the house.
Clark's trial was scheduled to start Monday at the Montgomery County Courthouse, but he ended up pleading guilty to two counts of Aggravated Stalking.
A large group of his neighbors gathered downtown for the court proceedings. They have been following the case very closely as it progressed through the judicial system and were pleased with the outcome. Along with Gross, they also recounted their bizarre and frightening encounters with Clark through the years.
Some neighbors were scared to get their mail, let their dogs out or be in their yards. Clark would also shine big flashlights with a strobe feature at passing cars to disorient drivers at night.
Tyler Norris has lived next to Clark for four years. His wife, Kristin, is one of the victims Clark admitted to stalking in court Monday.
"It's been very scary to live at my house. When I get home from work or from anywhere, I have to run inside just because I'm afraid that there's going to be a guy jumping out of the bushes with a flashlight in my face and yelling things at me that you don't want to hear when you get off of work," Norris said.
Norris added that he "could go on for days" about what Clark put his family through. He says Clark even recorded phone calls that Norris answered inside his house and played the conversations on a loud speaker so that the neighborhood could hear it.
"I cut grass for a living and I had to hire someone to cut my own grass because he harassed me the whole time I cut my grass. I was just afraid to walk out in my yard. It was that way for everybody in the neighborhood that lived within several blocks of him," Norris added.
Tony Calhoun lives a few blocks over from Jason Clark and one day when he was visiting someone on Clark's street, he says Clark hit him with his mother's car.
"It was a scary experience. I picked up a brick and threw it at his windshield," he said.
He commended the work of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office for bringing Clark's reign of terror to an end and making sure he pays for what he did to his community.
"If you can't enjoy yourself at home and have a cook out and enjoy your family, cut your grass and enjoy your friends, that's a sad situation," Calhoun added.
Sara Chandler was another one of the victims Clark admitted to stalking through his guilty plea. Officials say there were more than 20 police calls and reports involving Chandler alone as they gathered information to build the case against Clark.
"We're all very happy with the outcome. It was a problem that was escalating and kept escalating to where something bad was going to happen in our neighborhood to the point where we were scared to go out," she said. "He threatened me, scared me, followed me, killed my grass, shot out my front door, shot out my laundry room door, keyed my car. Plus, there was the harassment."
Brenda and Paul Biller had to put up surveillance cameras and motion detectors around their house after their frequent run-ins with Jason Clark.
"This has been 4.5 years of sheer terror," Brenda said. "You don't know what it feels like to just be scared to death in your own neighborhood. We got to the point where we would not walk up the street towards his house. We were scared every day that he was going to poison our dogs. We had to keep them inside and before we let them outside, we would have to check the yard to make sure there was nothing that he would have thrown there that could hurt them."
Paul was asked to be the block captain for his street for the neighborhood watch and Clark was his primary concern because he created so many problems.
"He threatened to kill me on more than one occasion. He would shout obscenities at me as I was walking the streets to keep an eye on the crime situation. He would call my wife derogatory names and make sexual comments about my wife," Biller said. "It is satisfying to know that at least he is going to be locked up for a while and our neighborhood is a lot safer now."
Neighbors said Clark shined spotlights into their homes as well as lasers and there weren't sure if they were coming from a weapon being pointed at them. Others remember times when Clark cut his grass dressed in all black wearing a hockey mask. He also wore a ghillie suit in the neighborhood, which snipers and hunters use to conceal their position.
Clark was also allowed to live at the College Grove Community Church on Wares Ferry Road in Montgomery for more than a year for free when a judge ordered him out of his Dalraida neighborhood. When he threatened to shoot a family walking on the church property, the church gave him an eviction notice and Clark went on a rampage, breaking lights, running up the electric and water bills, painting insults on the marquee in black paint and breaking glass and putting it in the church grass. He used 275,000 gallons of water, church officials said.
Neighbors eventually turned to Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey for help and he met with residents several times. He got his investigators involved and started surveillance on Clark. The Montgomery Police Department also began to investigate.
Clark was previously convicted in city court for harassing his neighbors. That paved the way for his stalking charges to be felonies, Bailey said.
He violated a protection order on his stalking charges, which prevented him from possessing firearms and ammunition but a search of his home turned up approximately 40,000 rounds of ammo, a slew of guns, a cell phone jammer, surveillance cameras, spotlights, and an infrared illuminator which blinded neighbors' home security systems.
"We found hundreds and hundreds of round of ammunition, AR-15s, all types of weapons, camera systems that he was using to spy on the neighbors, big spotlights that he was using to shine in their houses at 2,3,4 o'clock in the morning. It was constant harassment. Your house is supposed to be your safe haven. No one is supposed to bother you. You can go and relax but for these people, it's been pure hell for years," District Attorney Daryl Bailey said.
Clark will be sentenced next month. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each of his two counts of Aggravated Stalking. Prosecutors say Clark underwent a mental evaluation and was deemed competent. He also has another charge pending against him, Intimidating a Witness, which involves one of his neighbors.
"For the last six or seven years, they have been terrorized by a domestic terrorist in this neighborhood. It's caused them all types of anguish. Now, he's been put behind bars and hopefully will stay there for a long time. They can now rest easily and sleep peacefully at night without fear of being harmed or being harassed in their own homes," Bailey added. "I feel that everyone has breathed a collective sigh of relief now that this terrorist is off the streets."
Those who live around Clark returned to their quiet neighborhood Monday night feeling at ease for the first time in a long time. They're looking forward to a future without turmoil and angst on the street they call home.
"I'm happy with the outcome that something will be done with him and he'll be gone from our lives and we won't have to scared at home all of the time," Kristin Norris said.
"I feel like with him gone, that the neighborhood will be calm. I pray that that's what's going to happen and I feel certain that it will because without him being there, there won't be the harassment that was going on," Gross added.