In 2017, the bizarre saga of a serial squatter ended in two shocking deaths in Montgomery County. Now, the story is available for streaming via a new Netflix series.
Based on New York Magazine’s viral 2018 article, “Worst Roommate Ever,” the series of the same title tells the story of Jamison Bachman. Or, as his Chestnut Hill roommate, Alex Miller, came to know him: Jed Creek — a name Bachman had used to respond to a fateful Craigslist ad that Miller had posted seeking a roomie. That exchange would serve as the beginning of an increasingly nightmarish string of events.
As Jed, Bachman contacted Miller about the room, saying that he was a lawyer from New York who who had grown up outside Philly, and that he needed a place to stay in the area to deal with some family issues. After meeting up, the two became roommates; Bachman wrote a check for Miller immediately and moved in the same evening.
It started to get weird almost instantly. Bachman showed up with six plastic bins, which contained all of his worldly possessions — as well as a cat, which Miller was allergic to, and unaware that Bachman had. Bachman removed lightbulbs from shared living spaces, took kitchen chairs to build a desk in his room, moved Miller’s personal items around, and refused to pay for his portion of the utility bills.
After finding a cigarette butt in the toilet bowl, Bachman refused to pay the next month’s rent, insinuating that Miller had broken the “warranty of habitability” and “covenant of quiet enjoyment.”
“We agreed he would share the cost of paying the bills,” Miller says in Netflix’s Worst Roommate Ever. “Later, Jed would laugh at me when I asked for him to pay the bills. When he laughed, at me, it was sinister. It was demeaning. It was patronizing, like I was stupid.”
Miller’s mother ran a search on Bachman’s phone number, revealing that he wasn’t Jed Creek at all. Instead, they found that as his true identity, Bachman, he was a “serial squatter who had terrorized roommates up and down the East Coast,” as Miller says in the series.
Bachman, Miller found, knew just enough about tenancy laws to take advantage of roommates by not paying rent, refusing to leave, and, eventually, forcing them to move out of their own houses. Primarily, he’d accomplish that through weird domestic torture, like clogging toilets with cat litter. But at least one former roommate, Arleen Hairbaedian, had physical altercations with Bachman that resulted in restraining orders. Bachman even took two of her cats to area kill shelters after taking over her apartment.
Another former roommate, Sonia Acevedo, lived with Bachman in her condo in Rockaway Beach, N.Y., and found he regularly behaved violently. Acevedo came to block herself in her room with a chair, worried that Bachman “could snap at any time,” she says in the series, and booby-trapped the door when she wasn’t home to see if he was entering her space.
A native of Elkins Park, Bachman graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1974. Friends interviewed in the series described him as smart, charming, and good-looking, and said most people thought he had a bright future, despite a tumultuous family background. He went on to attend Tulane University in New Orleans, but it was there that one friend, identified as Bob F., says Bachman witnessed a brutal murder that changed him forever.
A 1976 AP article on the incident indicates that in that incident, Ken Gutzeit, a friend of Bachman’s from Elkins Park, was murdered at a frat house following an argument at the school’s library. Gutzeit, 20, bled to death from a slashed neck. Witnessing that, Bob F. said, changed Bachman’s outlook from upbeat and positive to “”very dark, very paranoid.”
“That’s the kind of traumatic, life-changing event that changes your whole worldview,” Bob F. said in the series. But, he added, it doesn’t justify Bachman’s actions.
After learning Bachman’s true identity, Miller threw a lengthy party at her home with drinking, smoking, and rap music (three of Bachman’s apparent pet peeves) as a way to get him to want to leave. That escalated into assault: Bachman choked Miller, slamming her leg in a door, and slashing at her with a knife. He was arrested, and Miller filed for a Protection From Abuse order that included Bachman’s eviction.
Bachman’s brother Harry ended up bailing him out of jail twice, which ultimately would result in both of their deaths. In November 2017, Bachman killed Harry in his brother’s Elkins Park home, with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office saying that Harry “suffered blunt force trauma to the head and body.” After the murder, Bachman fled in his brother’s car, and used his credit card to check into a hotel in Upper Moreland Township.
There, a Montco SWAT team served an arrest warrant on Bachman, but not without a struggle. As the series points out, Bachman swung a camp-style axe at officers, striking one in the face, and another in the arm before being taken into custody.
Bachman, however, would never go to trial for Harry’s murder. On Dec. 8, 2017, he hanged himself in his cell at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. He was 60.
“How dare he?” Miller says in the series. “First, he ended up destroying himself. Then he killed his brother, the only person in the world left to help him. And then he killed himself.”
Worst Roommate Ever is available to stream on Netflix now. Two episodes deal with Bachman’s story, while the other three cover different cases.