A Valencia woman is devastated, somewhat in shock and not even sure of what justice looks like as the legal saga from one of the strangest chapters of her life is just beginning.
“I’m not in a super-reflective mood, yet,” said Melinda Carrigan, 52, contemplating how in the last six weeks, a man she invited into her house ended up filing a domestic violence case against her over a torn T-shirt — and then, according to court documents, she was accused by the same man of stealing things from him that were actually hers, which he was found to be in possession of, according to Sheriff’s Station detectives who arrested John Goggin last week.
Goggin, 53, pleaded not guilty Monday to one count each of first-degree residential burglary, grand theft and attempted grand theft, according to Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
But the story begins much earlier.
Carrigan first met Goggin while the two were in high school, about 30 years ago, during Carrigan’s freshman year. Both were going to the same school in San Francisco. The relationship abruptly ended after Goggin’s family moved away, she said.
After a recent divorce, she tried online dating, and, “That was just craziness,” she said, adding she was immediately interested when, after a spate of bad dates, her beau from years past reached out.
He was still living in Northern California at first, she said. She allowed Goggin to stay with her after the two reconnected.
That was her big mistake, she said.
“You don’t let someone move into your house in California,” Carrigan said, noting the process of having someone evicted can become a nightmare.
While Goggin was away on a trip up north to the Marin County area where he’d been living, Carrigan said she was contacted by two women who, independent of each other, shared concerns they had on her behalf.
One woman, Bronwyn Hogan, shared with The Signal the restraining order that followed the end of her engagement with Goggin.
She was also sent a warning letter by Gina Cole, a past acquaintance of Goggin’s. She shared the three-day notice to quit that she was prompted to file by Goggin’s refusal to leave her home.
Carrigan recalls the conversation now as something that set off alarm bells for her, based on how well she knew Goggin, and concerns she already had. However, her greater concern was for the man she cared about, a man she didn’t necessarily want to make homeless, she said, adding he also had a dog that needed a home.
But things for Carrigan really began to spiral last month, she said.
When Goggin returned from out of town, she confronted him, and then he refused to leave her home on Estoril Street, near the intersection of McBean Parkway and Orchard Village Road, she said.
The situation worsened for Carrigan, who confronted Goggin on May 23, and the two got into a confrontation through which Goggin’s shirt became torn. The Sheriff’s Station was called, and, citing the ripped clothing as evidence, Carrigan was accused of domestic violence by Goggin, and with the evidence present, deputies were mandated by law to make an arrest.
While the case was later dismissed by the District Attorney’s office, Carrigan, no longer feeling safe or comfortable in her own home, moved out, leaving the unwanted house guest in her house while she worked through the eviction process.
While Carrigan was working to get her home back, Goggin filed a false police report, according to Detective Dan Finn of the Career Offenders, Burglary Robbery Assault, or COBRA, team in the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Detective Bureau.
Sheriff’s Department officials became involved once again, when they suspected that Goggin was lying about Carrigan stealing valuable items from her home.
COBRA detectives then had Goggin arrested for filing a false police report regarding the theft, allowing Carrigan to have a move-out order served on Goggin, so she could reclaim her home.
SCV Sheriff’s Station deputies then found items they believe Goggin stole, and social media activity on NextDoor leading them to suspect Goggin was planning to sell additional valuables from the home, using the social media network.
One of the main reasons that station officials spoke with The Signal regarding the investigation was in hope that a neighbor who lives in the neighborhood — NextDoor restricts access to all except those who physically live in the same neighborhood boundaries — might see that they bought stolen goods and help Carrigan receive compensation for her losses, Finn said.
“He said he was helping, but he really turned my life upside-down,” Carrigan said. She added that she knew things could be worse though, because property is often replaceable. “I consider myself lucky — I know that there’s just horrendous things that happen to people.”
Ultimately, the women who fell for Goggin said they allowed him in because he comes across as charming, and they had past relationships — several that stretched back decades — and Carrigan, at least, said she didn’t know if she would have necessarily done things differently if the situation were to happen again. She felt compelled to be compassionate toward the man, who wasn’t a stranger, even though she was given warning.
Hogan, who also shared stories and court documentation of her recent re-acquaintance with Goggin — which led to an engagement before the romance fell apart — didn’t blame Carrigan. This, despite the fact that a warning went unheeded.
“Her kindness and her belief in human decency is what put her in that situation. And I don’t think I’d want Melinda to change at all.”
She had a decidedly different sentiment for her former fiance, she said in a phone interview Monday.
“I hope he rots,” she said.
Goggin is due back in court next week for a hearing. He’s being held in lieu of $60,000 bail at the Sheriff’s Department’s Inmate Reception Center in downtown Los Angeles.