ID – In previous editions of the US~Observer we published
articles covering an alleged land theft in northern Idaho. In late 2009,
Sydney “Butch” Walker and his wife Dorothy were forced to
file a civil lawsuit against neighbors, Bessie Harmon, Etta Harmon,
Ellen Hoiland, Dean Hoiland, and Elvin Harmon (Harmon/Hoilands) who
were allegedly encroaching on Walkers’ land.
According to the
Walkers, “We were attempting to protect our property boundaries
according to property lines that were detailed to us when we were purchasing
our acreage in 1968…” The Walkers had no idea when they
purchased much of Section 24 that they were buying into a surveying
When the Harmon/Hoilands
(adjacent neighbors to the south in Section 25) began building a structure
on property the Walkers knew was part of their Section 24 land, they
hired an attorney out of Boise, Idaho named Dennis Charney and a surveyor
out of Idaho County named Chad Erickson to protect their boundaries.
In 2009, Charney
filed a lawsuit and Erickson began bilking the Walkers, out of what
would eventually become $37, 856.00, for his “bogus” surveying
(even Erickson used the term “bogus” to describe his own
monument). When the Walkers finally discovered that Erickson was coming
up with “substantially incorrect surveys and reports”, they
fired him and hired surveyor Steve Wellington out of Meridian, Idaho.
Edwards was hired by the Harmon/Hoilands as an expert to render opinions
on the south line of Section 24, not the NW corner. Yet, Hunter Edwards,
in an attempt to allegedly expand the scope of surveys for his future,
deliberately moved, or at least attempted to move the NW corner of Section
24 on February 7, 2014. It was Hunter Edward’s 2001 survey that
the Harmon/Hoilands used against the Walkers to lay claim to the land
in Section 24.
When Hunter Edwards
attempted to go onto Walker property to re-set the NW corner (a job
he was not hired to do nor was he permitted by law to do without the
permission of the Walkers and their adjacent landowners) the Walkers
refused to allow him access. Idaho has a “no-right-of-entry”
law, which means Hunter Edwards was trespassing if he stepped onto Walker
property without their permission.
Walkers, after discovering
nearly a hundred years of incompetent, unethical surveying in Idaho
County, Idaho, eventually found that they would have to expose the whole
sequence of events, including the 1977 allegedly fraudulent survey by
local surveyor Carl Edwards, where he re-located the SW and SE corners
of Section 24, just outside of Grangeville. This was nine years after
the Walkers purchase of their property, based on original corners, set
permanently by government surveyors in the late 1800s under U.S. Homestead
laws (by official Government Land Office (GLO) surveyors).
In 1977, the Walkers
had no idea that Edwards had done this. It is important to note, Carl
Edwards (father of Hunter Edwards - another allegedly fraudulent Idaho
County surveyor) was required by law to officially record newly placed
corners, even “fraudulent corners,” within 90 days in order
to give members of the public, such as the Walkers, an opportunity to
raise objections. Carl Edwards failed for 19 years to do this, choosing
instead to wait until 1996 to record, and then he only recorded some
of his 1977 corners – at this point, the reader must be wondering
why. Well, according to one expert surveyor we spoke with, “Edward’s
new SW corner was so far out of whack that it is just fraudulent;”
and according to another expert, “failing to record made it virtually
impossible to either identify or correct the fraud, giving it the false
appearance of a condition of ‘repose,’ making it appear
that the incorrect corners had been accepted by acquiescence.”
In 2013, Walkers’
attorney Charney filed a Motion seeking court approval of an arrangement
that he had made, without authority. When the Walkers read the Motion,
seeing the new property lines that Charney was asking the court to approve,
they knew “he was giving away their land, in an attempt to settle
the long standing case” against their interest. Unable to communicate
with Charney who had conveniently made himself unavailable and realizing
they were in jeopardy, the Walkers contacted the US~Observer to investigate
and look into this devastating situation.
agreed to investigate the Walker case, Charney was fired and over the
past two years we have conducted an in-depth investigation only to find
that over 100 years of incompetent or dishonest surveying allowed adjacent
landowners to falsely claim ownership of property from their neighbors.
It now appears that
recent “mistakes” in surveying may have been driven by a
desire to create more surveying business for Idaho County surveyors
in the future and we will report on that in more depth in our next article;
but the lesson here may be that because of the “ripple effect”
more property may be stolen in Idaho County because of the “fraudulent”
surveys near Grangeville by Carl and Hunter Edwards
The Walkers are
working to contain the situation, keeping the problem local by trying
to resolve it locally. But, when surveyors take “license”
to move permanently established boundaries to suit the latest land-grab
scheme, as opposed to sticking with survey monuments that were established
by the original 1800’s GLO surveys, litigation is promoted, with
neighbors being polarized. This is the genesis of the entire problem.
If property lines in Sections 23, 24, 25 and 26 can be moved at the
whim of a surveyor, where does it all end? Does the entire state need
to be re-surveyed until we reach the initial point at the Boise Meridian?
If this absurd approach is taken, then every landowning person in the
state may need to be added to the Walker’s lawsuit..
Our surveying expert
verified in short order that Charney’s Motion had stated completely
wrong property descriptions and we were shocked to find that Charney
had charged the Walkers an enormous amount of money for his so-called
“legal work,” that was actually “aimed at throwing
them under the bus.” We are currently attempting to obtain the
exact amount Charney charged and will report on this soon.
W. Hoyt of Clearwater, Idaho was hired to help correct the mess that
Charney and Erickson had created and he was able to retract the Motion
that Charney had filed.
At this juncture,
surveyor Pete Ketcham was hired by the Walkers to begin surveying the
south line of section 24, because the Walkers knew the survey that Wellington
had filed two years prior was incorrect. After much hard work, studying
historical facts, Ketcham discovered the original, historic SW corner
of section 24, which Wellington had overlooked. When found, Wellington
recognized that the original stone found by Ketcham was indeed the actual
GLO SW corner of Section 24 and he agreed to revise his survey recognizing
appeared on Charney’s original lawsuit against the Grangeville
Highway District and it was dismissed without prejudice because the
suit did not name all adjoining landowners who would be affected by
the Court’s ultimate boundary decision.
Steve Wellington did a sudden “180” after having stated
to the Walkers’ in the presence of third parties that he would
place the southern boundary of the Walkers’ land at its original
GLO location, which was much further south than Chad Erickson’s
line (and south of Wellington’s previous line); then he changed
his mind without informing his client. He had previously stated that
he was accepting the original stone found by Pete Ketcham at the SW
corner and the U.S. Government’s SE Angle Point, which was the
basis for Ketcham’s south line. However, after he had allegedly
conversed with Chad Erickson, he decided to use a line very close to
Erickson’s line and recorded his Revised Record of Survey on October
15, 2015. This action really convoluted this case in that Erickson’s
south line deprives the Walkers of over 35 acres of property that was
originally part of Section 24, according to the expert surveyors we
have spoken with. This is a “wealth transfer by
surveyor” which is not permitted by any law that we know of.
and Butch Walker
did was charge the Walkers $30,059.36 for his work, while agreeing that
the south line should be placed well below the contrived and calculated
positions postulated by Erickson and Carl Edwards, which placement would
have set the south line in its original GLO position and helped resolve
the matter. Then by waiting over two years, he charged up a big bill,
then surreptitiously changed his survey that the Walkers were relying
upon to prove their lawsuit. I don’t know what the Board of Surveyors
call this, but at the very least it is blatantly unethical - it is what
I call stealing!
At this juncture,
and tired of being cheated over and over by “professionals”,
the Walkers hired two additional surveyors, Jeffrey Lucas (nationally
recognized as an expert’s-expert) out of Alabama and “federal
surveyor” Matt Mayberry of Hayden, Idaho. Mayberry recently filed
a Record of Survey on the west line of Walker’s section 24. Both
of these expert surveyors agree that Pete Ketcham’s south line
and SW corner reflect the original GLO locations. The Walkers needed
additional surveyors to survey their west line and to validate that
their south line was correct.
Hoyt filed an amended
lawsuit on July 16, 2015, naming adjoining property owners and he also
named surveyor Hunter Edwards as a defendant, claiming slander of title
for attempting to move the NW corner of Sec. 24, which had been accepted
by all surveyors since 1902 (even Hunter Edward’s father did not
question the historically recognized 1902 location of the NW corner).
Judge John Stegner
would not allow Hoyt’s suit for slander of title because it added
Edwards who was not an adjoining landowner, so Hoyt is now in the process
of refiling the property line suit and will be filing a separate lawsuit
against Hunter Edwards.
The evidence is
mounting that original GLO monuments and “fraudulent stones”
have been placed in the field by both Hunter Edwards and his father,
Carl Edwards over the years; making them the chief suspects in a case
for property theft.
On December 14,
2015 Judge Stegner extended the time for Hoyt to file the amended complaint
with permission until February 8, 2016, so that all the adjoiners could
be named and any other property owners whose boundary would truly be
affected by the lawsuit.
Due to complaints
reportedly received by the Idaho Board of Licensure of Professional
Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors (Board) against Hunter Edwards,
Chad Erickson and others, combined with the length of time (five-plus
years) this dispute has been going on, the Board decided to move ahead
with their obligations under the law.
The Board filed
charges against Chad Erickson of Idaho County on October 28, 2015. Allegations
contained in the complaint against Erickson include “fraud, misconduct
and negligence in his survey report”. He was also accused by a
client of “criminal and fraudulent misconduct”.
in the case against Respondent Chad Erickson is the Board’s Executive
Director Keith Simila. Simila's
Relief” states, “In the case of default only, Complainant
recommends that the Board take the following specific disciplinary action
regarding the license issued and held by Respondent: the assessment
of a $5,000.00 fine, and a 3-year suspension of Respondent’s license.”
Simila and the Board should be commended for beginning to hold this
out of control surveyor accountable.
surely must have started getting heart burn the moment he heard of the
charges, as he had “jumped into bed” with Erickson and filed
his amended Record of Survey, virtually a mirror image of the incorrect
Erickson survey, just about one week prior to Erickson being charged.
Carl Edwards has
retired from the practice of surveying. As for the Board’s charges
against Hunter Edwards, we haven’t obtained any documents yet.
We will report more on this issue when we obtain the actual alleged
None of these surveyors
(Carl and Hunter Edwards, Chad Erickson and Steve Wellington) have respected
the regular pattern of surveying achieved by the original GLO survey
of the 1800s and it is obvious to this writer that the motivation was
to give an unfair advantage to adjacent property owners who gained significant
amounts of property from these surveyor’s calculated boundary
lines, which do not respect the original monument positions established
by the GLO.
It is very clear
that the Board has their work cut out for them. They have a real “Mess”
on their hands because incompetent and/or unethical surveyors created
it for them.
As for the Walkers,
in September, 2015 Sydney (Butch) Walker passed away and now it is up
to Dorothy to handle this literal nightmare all by herself. According
to one highly qualified witness, “What the false surveys have
done is allow some property owners, with a desire to steal from their
neighbor(s), the opportunity to claim that moving fences and property
boundary markers onto Walker land is justified”. According to
Attorney Hoyt, “Bad surveying is an open door to theft of property.”
Dorothy Walker told
me during a recent conversation, “I have to finish this, I am
not going to allow people to take our property and I will certainly
not allow surveyors to take advantage of me. Butch would want me to
hold these people accountable.”
Walker is currently
seeking a civil attorney to file suit against Chad Erickson, his fellow
surveyor Steve Wellington and others.
Rest assured, I
have a very good idea who originally put Carl Edwards up to starting
this whole mess back in the 1970’s and I will be exposing them
in the near future. This family and their cohorts think they are untouchable;
however, they will find out quite the opposite when they read the evidence
I have been compiling over the past two years.
Note: If you have information, of any nature, on those involved call
541-474-7885 or send an email to email@example.com.
We are specifically seeking information on Grangeville surveyors Hunter
Edwards, his father, Carl Edwards, Chad Erickson and Steve Wellington.
Also, landowner Mike Frei and his brother Jerry who is a Commissioner
for the Grangeville Highway District, which is involved in this case.
Mike Frei’s property adjoins property owned by Dorothy Walker.
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