Fundamentally, this is a lawsuit about a real estate transaction gone bad. But the horse ranch in question was owned by a woman whose life story, and her death story as well, was a house of cards ready to collapse.
The sprawling 15-acre ranch along the Kings River is home to two horses, and something of a ghost story. One of its former owners, Genevieve de Montremare, is seen here in the picture from her obituary. But the woman also known as Genevieve Weilert is still very much alive. Her husband, Dr. Michael Weilert, is the director of pathology at Community Regional Medical Centers and court documents show he admitted to telling people his wife died in 2007.
One horse show even gave out an award as a memorial to her. The southern California family that bought the ranch says the Weilerts concocted the story to drive up the price. And it's not the first fib they say Genevieve told. In fact, they claim she built her entire life on lies.
Speaking with an accent, she claimed she was an heir to French royalty whose family cared for Friesian horses for hundreds of years. She also claimed she was a geneticist. And the Weilerts claimed they built this to be the ideal horse ranch with a special lab and a covered arena.
"That would enhance the value of the property," said ABC-30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "If that were true, the price might be legitimate, but since this is all make-believe, I think there's a problem."
But Genevieve Weilert is really a Valley native, a former Raisin Queen and waitress. And the new owners say there's no real arena, and no real lab. They did discover, though, that there was a real Genevieve Weilert, alive and well, but only after they filed a lawsuit against her husband.
Capozzi says the strange story could undercut any credibility the Weilerts have. "It is so bizarre, I think the evidence tends to flow towards the plaintiffs in this particular case," he said.
Action News tried to contact the Weilerts and their attorney, as well as the people who bought the property from them, but nobody returned our messages. The trial is set to begin on Thursday.