“He wanted to play doctor on us … and not in the cute little kid way.”
The Campbell family opened up about their horrifying experience after discovering a total stranger had secretly been living in their Hawaii home — all while planning “to perform various surgeries on us.”
In Monday’s premiere episode of Lifetime’s “Phrogging: Hider In My House,” James and Brittany Campbell shared their story, which initially made headlines back in 2019. “Phrogging” is the terrifying phenomenon where people discover others secretly living in their homes — in places like the walls, crawl spaces and attics.
After getting married and moving to Honolulu with two children in 2019, the Campbells first started noticing little things were off. The two found boxes opened in the garage, belongings shifting around, their webcam appearing on at night and Brittany hearing the door slam “out of nowhere.” James, however, admitted he thought “she was being paranoid” and he was “getting frustrated” with his wife. Brittany, on the other hand, said the experience left her “on the verge of a complete mental breakdown.”‘
James also recalled seeing the shadow of a person outside their home one day, before coming across a curious message left on a desk calendar. It read, “Your rehabilitation starts today. Do as I did: Choose a house, clean it, set up all devices.” He, however, assumed Brittany wrote it for him and simply wanted him to clean the house.
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In September 2019, the family returned to the mainland for a week. When they got back to Hawaii, they first noticed James’ bike was left in the driveway; immediately, they knew something was wrong. Having the kids wait in the car, James opened the garage and “saw that it had just been completely trashed.”
When he went to open the door to get into the house, he was met with resistance. “It opens a crack and we can see a person inside our house,” said Brittany — as James added, “There’s a man peeking through the door, he’s trying to hold it shut and the man says, ‘This is not your house,’ very calmly.”
James then realized the mystery man was wearing his clothes and started to think maybe the guy was homeless, needed a place to stay and was on drugs. The man reassured the two that he “took care of your cat” while they were gone, as Brittany ran inside to check on their pet. They found it inside a cage, without water. She also said the home looked like the man had been “doing an inventory” of everything inside.
Police came and arrested him, with the Campbells saying he “was very casual” about the whole ordeal. “It was really as if this person didn’t think he was doing anything out of the ordinary,” said Brittany.
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As the family continued to check out what the man, who was identified in the press as Ezequiel Zayas at the time, they noticed that he had done all of their sons’ laundry and made their beds, leaving the room “immaculate.” In their own bedroom, things got even freakier.
They found a towel set up with knives on it, next to a pair of their computers. On one computer, there was a text document on the screen titled, “The Omnivore Trials: a rehabilitation for rat like people,” as well as “intimate details” about things he “could have only known if he was listening to our private conversations.” Explained Brittany: “He somehow knew my husband and I were trying to have a baby. He wrote that I should give up on trying to have a baby and focus on the children that I have. This person had been watching us.”
She told The Post that the man “wanted to play doctor on us — and not in the cute little kid way,” saying he wanted to “make us into perfect people.” On the episode, the two explained just how he planned to do it.
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“These writings were suggesting that surgical procedures should be performed on my wife and my children. We found these serums that are labeled to use on the ‘omnivores,'” he claimed. “He had been looking up videos on how to surgically remove and arm, he looked up how to do gender reassignment surgery.”
Brittany says the man had also looked at websites to buy surgical tables, as well as how to perform certain surgeries at home. “He had researched ways to implement these plans that he had,” she said. Another computer, meanwhile, had a video on it in which Zayas appeared to be “mocking” her — with footage of him doing “like a makeup tutorial with a really bizarre twist on it.”
“There’s not even a single part of me that would have thought, ‘Hey, there’s a guy maybe in our attic writing a medical manifesto who wants to transform my family to a species that he called omnivores.’ Who would think that?” asked James, who confirmed the family has since left Hawaii altogether.
As for Zayas, after his arrest he was granted supervised release — before getting arrested again for allegedly burglarizing a temple. While awaiting trial on burglary charges, he was accused of killing another inmate and charged with first-degree murder and second-degree murder in 2020 and is currently in a mental health facility awaiting trial.
New episodes of “Phrogging: Hider In My House” drop Mondays on Lifetime.
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