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Murdered Irishman John Michael O’Sullivan's wife loses home in California

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The family of the Irishman who was shot dead in California last August is about to lose everything when the bank forecloses on their second home this coming Thursday.

The widow of John Michael O’Sullivan, 47, and his children will be forced into the street when the bank forecloses on their second home Thursday, the home they moved into after their first home foreclosed in January.

Krista Clem, wife of O’Sullivan, who was shot dead by his neighbor after a dispute ensued between them in August, told the Irish Voice in October it was her husband that dealt with financial matters, and his passing has left her up in a heap.

“We helped each other with everything, farm stuff, the businesses, just about everything. We were a great team,” Clem said.

“And John did all the dealings with the bank, it was all him.”

The ranch that Clem shared with her husband and four children in Fiddletown, Amador County in California and their second home in Shelter Cove (which they rent out as a vacation home) were under threat of repossession since O’Sullivan’s death. They were already behind in mortgage payments.

Clem, 43, has been unable to pay the mortgage on both houses, and in early January the bank removed one of the homes. This week they are about to take away the second.

Clem, who the Irish Voice could not contact before press deadline, took the children to Kerry for Christmas and told the Sunday Tribune that if all else fails in California she will strongly consider relocating there.

"Almost all our belongings are in a 40 foot container," said Clem.

"If I can’t sell enough I guess we'll have to send them to Ireland, and then at least we'll be around people that care about us.”

Back in October Clem described the loss of her husband as overwhelming.

“I am just so tired trying to do everything,” said Clem, a native Californian who married O’Sullivan in 2006. 

“It’s so hard now with the four kids, and no John. He was very energetic and powerful and he was such an exuberant person.”

O’Sullivan, who was the eldest of eight children from Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, leaves behind 16-month-old Tessie, Michael Seamus, 3, and his two stepchildren, Lydia, 8 and Jacob, 15.

O’Sullivan, who emigrated to the U.S. in the early eighties, was in the land developing business before his death. He was involved with two “green projects” that, when completed, promised to be successful business ventures.

Clem hoped the bank would give her an opportunity to continue John’s work.

"I had a plan for that home that would surely have worked, but apparently the bank has no intention of working with me and instead wants to do whatever it can to make things as difficult as possible for us," Clem told the Sunday Tribune.

O’Sullivan was shot dead by neighbor Kenneth John Zimmerman, 56, while on his tractor on Sunday, August 16, 2009, after, what police said, was an ongoing feud between neighbors got out of control.

Zimmerman shot the Kerry man once in the side and twice in the back. The two men had been in a long-standing dispute over an access gate to land.

In an attempt to provide for her children, Clem made every effort possible to sell the properties or bring a business partner on board.

The bank only gave her until January 5 to come up with the money to pay the mortgage on their 40-acre ranch and their holiday home. She was unable.

Clem said she worked day and night putting together business plans and marketing her green projects.

“We need a bailout,” she told the Irish Voice in October.

The bailout never came, and now it seems Clem and her children will be homeless and penniless this Thursday.

“John’s family and some of the people on Valentia Island said I am welcome to move there. They are so great and it might be something that we may have to consider,” she said last year.

O’Sullivan is buried on Valentia Island.

Zimmerman remains in police custody. His trial has been delayed until May following a number of legal issues.

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