Most of us have never experienced the shock or terror of discovering a stranger has been living in our house without us knowing – but Brittany and James Campbell know exactly how it feels.
The couple – who feature in Lifetime’s true crime show Phrogging: Hider in My House – were away from their home in Honolulu with their two young sons for about a week, but got more than they bargained for when they returned.
On September 20, 2019, the family found a man inside their home and the situation just got scarier by the second.
Dad James, 36 – who is in the US Navy – grabbed a sledgehammer for protection, while Brittany, 37, called 911 for help, since ‘phrogging,’ is a crime.
Phrogging is when a stranger sneaks into someone’s space and secretly lives there for days, weeks or even months, with the crime series revealing all about the Campbell’s horrifying ordeal.
When cops arrived, the arrested the intruder – 23-year-old Ezequiel Zayas, who was standing in the couple’s front yard, wearing James’ clothes!
After he was taken away, the family believed that to be the end of it, but it became apparent that the nightmare had only just begun.
Upon daring to venture further inside their home, the Campbell’s found sheer chaos, with Brittany describing the scene as ‘just trashed’.
There were piles of pots and pans, James’ music equipment was all over the living room, and their bedroom was a mess.
Not only that, but their old laptop had been used to record disturbing diary entries about the family.
‘There [were] all these typed notes called The Omnivore Trials: A rehabilitation for Ratlike people,’ James told the show.
Brittany told The Post that it was at this point they realised the intruder had been in their home for a lot longer than they initially thought.
As events turned sinister, the stay-at-home mum noticed knives had been laid out next to the computer, along with a typed out ‘manifesto’ containing gruesome plans for the Campbells, such as ‘sexual reconstruction’ and a ‘hand transplant’.
She added: ‘He wanted to play doctor on us — and not in the cute little kid way. He wrote about how he could make us into perfect people.’
‘This guy had been sitting naked in my chair — that’s disgusting,’ she also says in the series, after finding a video he had made.
‘I just felt in terror.’
Suddenly, pennies started to drop as the couple began to make sense of incidents that were previously unexplainable.
For example, they had noticed a computer webcam turning on in the middle of the night over recent months, and doors being left open or unlocked.
Explaining phrogging, Jessica Everleth, the show’s executive producer, told The Post: ‘It starts out slowly — things go missing.’
She said victims are more likely to believe they are living with a ghost than a long-term trespasser: ‘You think it’s an urban myth, but it’s more common than you think.’
Following his arrest, Zayas was charged with burglary and was released.
Shortly after, he was arrested again for allegedly vandalising a Buddhist temple and, in 2020 it was alleged that he killed a fellow inmate.
He was charged with murder in the first and second degrees later that year, pleading not guilty.
Zayas was found to be ‘unfit to proceed’ and is now at the Hawaii State Hospital, where he awaits trial.
As for the Campbell family, they have since moved out of their Homolulu home and away from Hawaii.
They are still processing from the trauma, describing the incident as something that ‘has really affected us psychologically as a family’.
‘It’s uprooted our entire lives,’ Brittany says.
‘Recovering from this has been really difficult.’