Kevin and I are currently located outside of California as we continue to build our case and work to get back on our feet. On May 11, 2016 we lost thousands of dollars worth of personal property and our home, and we had our organization sabotaged by an unprovoked forcible entry and detainer by five Kern County Sheriff’s Deputies who were accompanied by an unidentified county building inspector.
We lived at 2232 Commercial Ave in Lake Isabella, CA for approximately 7 months prior to this event, and Kevin had recently received his first property tax bill in the mail. We were in the process of claiming the property using a legal process recognized in all 50 states called adverse possession; although due process and 2 CCP § 318 requires an action for the recovery of real property to be filed by a record owner who “was seized or possessed of the property in question,” no such action was ever filed. Instead, officers violated 14 Pen (CA) § 602(i) and (k) via opening the front gate and trespassing onto the property without a warrant or lawful authority. Our testimony and evidence are presented throughout the following timeline:
Part I; Backstory
2010 – I began documenting alongside former U.S. Armed Forces wilderness survival instructor Richard “Lonewolf” Legan, who informed me he hadn’t been receiving his due military benefits for many years. It was apparent from the lack of food in the cabinets and living conditions that his family was suffering, so I did some research and found him an attorney who began working his case. (Update: In June 2018 he received notice that his case has been approved, and he will soon be receiving his military backpay.)
2011 – I documented alongside Richard, and designed him business essentials (e.g. cards, fliers, posters) to help him get back on his feet. His dream was to open a sort of west coast equivalent to Tom Brown’s renown Tracker School. Together, we created a unique textbook called More Valuable Than Gold, and a website to showcase his skills and connect him with students to attend his classes. Most of my efforts were financed via street performing with my guitar, which I’d been doing since 2002, when I left my home state (Iowa) and began walking the country, writing songs along the way.
2013 – I met her current partner, Kevin Byrd, who joined my effort. Together we street performed while continuing to develop the publications and websites in coffee shops, truck stops, at friends’ houses, and many places in between. Every day we worked to stay alive and keep pushing the ball forward.
Spring 2015 – We were on our last legs. Street performing to earn enough to survive was proving to be too difficult, and years of doing so had noticeably taken its toll on our health. Kevin had been hospitalized more than once due to lack of food and exhaustion; carrying our backpacks in the hot desert day in and day out had finally become unbearable. To make matters worse, Kern County’s poverty level is very high (the rate of childhood poverty in Kern has increased every year since the Great Recession ), which made earning enough to survive noticeably more difficult than in other parts of the country. We were determined, however, to continue documenting alongside Richard Lonewolf so we could finish writing More Valuable Than Gold and continue building The Wild Living Skills Database & Smartphone App. We were working overtime just to keep moving forward, and we desperately needed help.
Summer 2015 – After listening to us sing and play guitar near a shopping center in Lake Isabella, CA, a man, noticing we were homeless and living out of our backpacks, approached and told us about the legal process called adverse possession, explaining it is “a procedure by which a person can gain legal title to an abandoned property.”
So I began researching adverse possession; we asked several friends if they were aware of any abandoned properties in the area. Several said they were familiar with adverse possession, and some even informed us that they knew people personally who acquired their homes in this way. Soon it was brought to our attention by local acquaintances Rudy and Liz Hemminger that the house across the street from them (2232 Commercial Ave.) had been abandoned for about 7 years, and that it might be a perfect candidate.
Part II; We Claimed the Property
August 31, 2015 – We walked through the open gate and entered onto the property using our right of entry.
Note: Legal term definitions which are referenced throughout this timeline will be followed by shortened definitions, as follows. Click the title or any highlighted terms to read their full definitions as cited from multiple law dictionaries. This window will remain open.
- right of entry – the right to take or resume possession of real property in a peaceable manner, including entering onto another person’s property for a special purpose, without committing a trespass.
Two videos filmed on this day documenting the property in the condition in which we found it:
Video #2 Filmed Immediately Afterward:
Note: Everything below is still being assembled. Please check back soon! (10/5/2018).
Following their trespassing onto our property at 2232 Commercial Ave. (Lake Isabella, CA) via opening the front gate which had a NO TRESPASSING sign attached to it, into the curtilage, and approaching us without an arrest warrant, Kevin and myself were both falsely arrested on fabricated charges of trespassing, we were made to sign
Following the loss of our home an the majority of our property, we made several attempts to reason with the Sheriffs at the Lake Isabella office to let us back into our home, to no avail. We called every attorney we could find who might help us with our case. We contacted the California Attorney General’s Office and the ACLU. Each redirected us to the same place: Greater Bakersfield Legal Aid, whose answering machine said that they “only do intake at the beginning of each month.” It was apparent we were not going to get any help. Feeling unsafe, we fled Kern County late May 2016, heading north to stay with friends, who gave us respite as I gathered together our evidence and wrote our testimony.
Their work did not go unchallenged however: Kern County is not an easy place to live. With significantly higher crime rates than Los Angeles County for all violent and property crimes, the highest number of arsons in state, and the second-highest number of rapes, Kern County also has the third-highest number of murders and non-negligent manslaughter crimes, and is considered the “meth capital of the U.S.”   “Living on the street” exacerbates one’s susceptibility to various dangers: Kevin and Distance were robbed on several occasions — so they just kept moving forward.
Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 – Mr. Byrd filed a DECLARATION OF CLAIM OF ADVERSE POSSESSION with the Kern County Assessor-Recorder using paperwork he received from their office upon request. Several “publicly beneficial purposes” for utilizing the property were indicated on the DECLARATION just in case Wild Willpower progressed their work enough in order to EMINENT DOMAIN the property on a later date for use as a home base for Kern River Wildharvesting Cooperative.
May 23-28, 2016 – Our neighbor Ginger Ohumukini and local friend Donna Rose Magerro signed a petition, and attached notes in our favor. Petition from Ginger and Donna Rose
June 6, 2016 – Laura Walters, a local friend whom on occasion helped us with gardening and getting the house fixed up, wrote a letter on our behalf: Letter from Laura Walters
and a subsequent abuse of process by the District Attorney’s Office caused us to be served an unjust warrant. Due to the fact that returning to California would likely cause our vehicle to be impounded (due to the warrant), we’re working to get our warrant quashed and move our case forward from our current location. My testimony, signed by both Kevin and myself, along with the evidence, is presented below.
abuse of process – improper, intentional, tortious use of civil or criminal process to obtain a result that is either unlawful or beyond the purpose for which such process was designed. — aka abuse of legal process; malicious abuse of process; malicious abuse of legal process; wrongful process; wrongful process of law.
adverse possession – continuous, exclusive, hostile, open, notorious enjoyment of real property with a claim of right when that enjoyment is opposed to another person’s claim; the doctrine by which title or easement may be obtained by doing so for a specified period of time. —aka adverse dominion, though not considered an unlawful form of adverse dominion.
occupancy – the act of taking possession of something that has no owner (such as abandoned property) so as to acquire legal ownership.
Links to Each Section of the Case:
: Bakersfield.com, “Kern County child poverty hasn’t slowed since end of Great Recession, report shows” BY HAROLD PIERCE (6-7-2017): http://www.bakersfield.com/news/kern-county-child-poverty-hasn-t-slowed-since-end-of/article_896aa556-0b90-5f39-9844-c46745dafa2f.html
: California Political Review, “Education Called Last Hope for Crime-Riddled Kern County (More Crime Than LA County!)” by Stephon Frank (10-3-2016): http://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/education-called-last-hope-for-crime-riddled-kern-county-more-crime-than-la-county/
: ABC Chennel 23, “Murder No Surprise In Meth Capital Of US” by TRACIE CONE and GOSIA WOZNIACKA Associated Press (1-23-2012): https://www.turnto23.com/news/murder-no-surprise-in-meth-capital-of-us