By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4) – Residents of an East Denver townhome complex have obtained protective orders against one of their neighbors who they believe is mentally ill. They say he has terrorized residents, threatening to kill them, poison their pets and has frightened children and their families.
“He’s scary, he’s scary,” said Nicole Dority, who lives in the complex located in Denver’s Mayfair neighborhood.
Dority, a married mother of two, said she loves the area and most of her neighbors, but that changed several months ago when Anthony Cortese, 44, moved into one of the townhomes owned by his parents.
According to interviews and police reports reviewed by CBS4, neighbors said Cortese regularly walked around the block naked, screamed obscenities at residents and their kids and smeared dog feces on a neighbors garage.
One resident told CBS4 Cortese followed his wife down the sidewalk growling at her. Another said he spent $700 on a security system out of fear of Cortese. He said he was terrified of his neighbor who he believed was capable of obtaining a gun and killing him and his wife.
“Well we all had to file temporary restraining orders,” said Dority. She said Cortese threatened her husband first.
“He told him he was going to kill him and kill our two dogs.”
Later, Dority said Cortese threatened her 10-year-old son as the boy was walking the families’ new puppy.
“He said he was going to hurt him and hurt our dog to my son. He has threatened to kill my husband, hurt my son, kill my animals hurt and kill other neighbors. That pretty much said it all. That’s enough.”
She said she caught Cortese shining a light into her daughters bedroom at one point.
“My daughter still doesn’t sleep in her bed most nights. She’s just afraid”.
Four other residents of the complex expressed similar fears and uneasiness about Cortese and his actions, but they asked their names not be used.
It got so bad Dority said she and her family left their home for the better part of a week to escape the erratic neighbor.
“We just needed to take a break and make decisions on how to move forward next.”
According to police documents obtained by CBS4, Cortese’s own parents fled their townhome fearing their son. Police wrote that the parents left the home because they “Do not feel safe.”
Denver police reports noted Cortese has been previously arrested for armed assault in Florida.
In September, five residents in the complex obtained a mandatory protection order against Cortese. The same month, DPD officers and mental health professionals visited Cortese for an evaluation. According to notes of the meeting, ”It was determined that Mr. Cortese appeared to have mental health issues, but he was not an imminent threat to himself or others at that time, so he was not placed on an M-1 hold.”
However police later arrested and jailed Cortese for harassment and public indecency. He was released on bond. He allegedly exposed himself to nearby school children.
A church and school are across the street from the townhomes. Daniel Leslie, the facilities manager, said everyone was “on high alert” about Cortese.
Leslie said school employees stand watch at the end of the school day to make sure Cortese doesn’t harass any of the students who are waiting to be picked up.
“I think some of the people around here were frightened by him,” said Leslie. “It doesn’t belong here at all, especially when he is living across from a school and church. Nobody needs that.”
Dority said she and her family will likely sell their townhome next year and move, partly because of their unpredictable neighbor.
When CBS4 visited Cortese’s home on Oct. 23, his father answered the door and said his son was gone and was not coming back. He went on to say that he intended to sell the home and was emphatic that his son would not be returning to the neighborhood. He declined to provide information on his sons whereabouts or put CBS4 in touch.
Dority questions why Cortese’s rights seemed to take precedence over her families’ right to a quiet home and peaceful existence.
“We have a problem in this country and we need to do something about it for sure. “