OROFINO — The scene at the former home of the Charles “Nick” and Donna Nickerson family appeared quiet and peaceful Wednesday following an eviction by law enforcement officers Tuesday.
A small crew of workers who said they had been hired by the property managers were taking inventory and winterizing the buildings.
One crew member said Ammon Bundy, who rose to national prominence in 2016 when he led an occupation of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, and “a couple of Idaho Three Percenters” had showed up earlier and looked around the place. It was a polite exchange, the crew member said, and then the Bundy party left.
The Nickersons and their extended family were evicted Tuesday by a contingent of Clearwater County sheriff’s deputies and Idaho State Police following a yearslong court battle in which the Nickersons claimed they were being wrongly foreclosed on even though the courts decided they had shown no proof they had made payments on the property for several years. The 50-acre piece of land and several buildings was returned to the mortgage company, PHH Inc., during a sheriff’s sale in 2017. An eviction order was signed by 2nd District Judge Gregory FitzMaurice in September.
Lewis N. Stoddard, an attorney with the Boise law firm of Aldridge Pite LLP who represents PHH Inc., said he could not comment on ongoing litigation. He said the Nickersons have filed an appeal to their eviction case.
According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, the keys to the property were handed over to the inventory crew at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday and all law enforcement officers left the scene.
A woman identified as Jeannie Smith, 58, of Wolf Creek, Mont., who had been arrested during the eviction, was charged with misdemeanor trespass and posted bond to be released from custody.
Donna Nickerson and a few family members were camped alongside Crow Bench Road overlooking their former home Wednesday morning. Donna Nickerson refused to comment on their situation but said she was looking into pursuing lawsuits.
Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz said Wednesday his responsibilities of serving the writ of eviction and then clearing the property of the Nickerson family and their belongings is complete. Whatever happens next on the property, Goetz said, is up to the mortgage company.
Goetz said he was surprised to learn that Bundy and companions were planned to come to Orofino because of the situation.
Goetz said he talked to Bundy on the phone Tuesday and explained the situation and told him law enforcement officers were going to leave as soon as the property was cleared.
In a video posted Wednesday afternoon on his Facebook page, Bundy said he had talked to the Nickersons and learned about their story. He described the meeting with the inventory crew as “very strange” and said he still has a lot of questions about the situation. Bundy did not say specifically if he had further plans and could not be reached for comment.
Bundy, who lives in Emmett, Idaho, led a group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Ore., for 40 days in early 2016.
Kathy Hedberg may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 983-2326.