We've all had bad roommates. Perhaps they failed to do their share of the household chores, were perpetually late with the rent, or had a habit of bringing unwelcome people into the shared living space. However, in 2022, Netflix released a documentary series about roommates who are considerably worse than anything most of us are likely to have ever experienced. One of the people profiled in the streaming platform's "Worst Roommate Ever" was Jamison Bachman, a grifter who used his knowledge of the law and, specifically, tenancy laws, to insert himself into well-meaning individuals' homes. He would then find a reason to avoid paying the rent for some trivial and perceived slight, terrorize his victims, and when threatened with eviction, weasel out of it — in many cases forcing the original occupants to leave their own homes.
Bachman's grifting spree came to an end, according to New York Magazine, following a murder, after which he committed suicide in his jail cell.
Bachman's alleged crimesdennizn/Shutterstock
The Netflix series, and the New York Magazine article on which "Worst Roommate Ever" is based, paint a chilling picture of Jamison Bachman. For example, using Craigslist and a pseudonym, Bachman found an available apartment occupied by Alex Miller and presented a compelling story about why he needed to rent the space. A short time later, he was acting erratically, and then he found excuses not to pay his share of the bills and backed up his excuses with legalese and threats of taking Miller to court. It wasn't just bluster: Bachman had a law education and knew his way around tenancy law.
It was a script he would repeat over and over again, with multiple roommates in multiple situations and multiple East Coast cities. By some accounts, it was always his intention to use his knowledge of tenancy laws to take over other peoples' homes and then force them out.
Alex Miller was Bachman's final victim, at least in terms of being swindled. His final victim of all of his criminal acts was his brother, Harry, who bailed him out of jail after he assaulted Miller. After Harry refused to let him stay with him, he allegedly beat his brother to death, then took his own life in jail.
There were more victims than what is shown in the Netflix seriesNetflix/YouTube
"Worst Roommate Ever" focuses on three of Bachman's victims: Alex Miller, Arleen Hairabedian, and Sonia Acevedo. In all three cases, Bachman followed the same general script: he would be friendly at first, and then start acting in strange, but borderline imperceptible, ways. Eventually, he would start acting erratically, while at the same time finding excuses not to pay his share of the bills, and threatening legal action when pressed.
However, that script was repeated on more than just the three victims profiled in the Netflix series, according to Screen Rant. Not mentioned in the show was Michael Oberhauser, a musician living in Washington, D.C., whose troubles with Bachman started when he (Bachman) kept moving around a bath mat for no real reason. Apparently fond of scamming musicians, he also moved in with a Charleston, South Carolina oboe player named Mark Gainer, with effectively the same result playing out. Melissa Frost also ran afoul of Bachman, and he allegedly assaulted her with a microwave oven at one point. "He went from being this cordial, polite person who understood he was a guest in my house, to someone who was approaching me aggressively and flat-out saying, 'This is my house now.'" Frost said. Another victim was Neville Henry, a Bermudan immigrant living in Philadelphia. A week after moving in, Bachman was allegedly threatening Henry with the leg of a table.
He also scammed a schoolInside Creative House/Shutterstock
In addition to forcing his way into individuals' homes and then terrorizing them into leaving, Jamison also allegedly tried to scam a school, according to New York Magazine. Specifically, in 2005 he was hired to teach at Thornton-Donovan School, a tony private school in New Rochelle, New York. Not much is known about his tenure there; New York Magazine reporter William Brennan managed to look up a single review of his classroom management, and it was from a student who wrote, simply, "He scares me."
Despite the impression he may or may not have given his pupils, Bachman's crimes weren't about kids but were about tenancy, and in this case, he managed to use his knowledge of the law to his advantage here, too. When he was hired, the headmaster let him live in an apartment nearby. However, when the school declined to renew his contract, he refused to pay rent or leave the apartment. This time, his punctilious legal posturing failed, and though it took two months, he was eventually evicted.
More details about the murder Bachman witnessedKevin Ruck/Shutterstock
"Worst Roommate Ever" provides a "cursory" (as described by Screen Rant) discussion of the fact that, as a young man, Bachman witnessed a murder. However, the details are compelling enough for a separate Netflix series — a true crime within a true crime, as it were.
Back in 1976, according to Oxygen, Bachman was a student at Tulane University in New Orleans. One night he was eating dinner at the Sigma Chi house dining room with his fraternity brothers, one of whom was a high school friend named Ken Gutzeit. Gutzeit had been feuding for weeks with another man, Randell Vidrine, and their disagreement came to a head that night when Vidrine walked into the dining room and stabbed Gutzeit. The fraternity brothers attempted to stop the bleeding but were unsuccessful.
Bachman's childhood friend, identified as "Bob F," claimed that witnessing this murder may have set Bachman down a dark path. He was smart. He was charming. He was good-looking [before the murder]," Bob said, while also noting that this trauma did not and does not excuse Bachman's later behavior.
Bachman's legal education was extensivecreate jobs 51/Shutterstock
Another aspect of Bachman's life that was given only the briefest exposition on "Worst Roommate Ever" was his legal education. As Screen Rant reports, the show made it clear that Bachman used his knowledge of the law, and his frequent use of legalese, to terrorize his victims. It does not note, however, that Bachman got his law degree at the age of 45 after having spent several years overseas. His law professors at the University of Miami and Georgetown were quite impressed with him: "In 20 years of university teaching, I have encountered very few people of his caliber," wrote one instructor.
Despite having a law degree, Bachman never became a lawyer. He took the bar exam in 2003, failed, and never tried again. Still, that didn't stop him from invoking punctilious legal jargon when it came to terrorizing his roommates, and indeed, the show doesn't go into just how aggressive he was about it. For example, when a roommate complained about Bachman throwing soiled cat litter in a toilet, he wrote, "Correct me if I'm wrong, as I only have two graduate degrees, but my understanding was that the proper place for sh*t is in a toilet," according to New York Magazine. Similarly, when he found a cigarette butt in a toilet, he told his roommate that they had violated the "warranty of habitability."