Pierce County neighbors fed up with squatters; sheriff says his hands are tied

ORTING, Wash. – Neighbors in Pierce County are fed up after a group of squatters moved in. They say they are bringing trash, burning fires, and leaving human waste.

The sheriff’s office says there’s not much they can do, and one of the campers claims she has a right to be there.

Kevin Ulsh, a father of four, walks with his two daughters up their driveway.  On the other side of the fence are people who’ve taken over the private property next to him with their rundown RVs and vehicles.

 

“We’ve called the sheriff multiple times. There are lot of things that should be taken care of. You’ve got burning of trash, you’ve got the smoke from the burning plastic over the fence. We’ve gone to health department,” said Orting homeowner Kevin Ulsh.

But Ulsh says no one has made them leave.

“Here’s paperwork from the county,” said camper Daeleen Baker.

Baker approached Q13 News while filming this story, showing us county paperwork she says give her the right the be there.  Q13 News hasn’t been able to confirm the documents.

“You’re trespassing. I can’t trespass with you?” asked Orting homeowner Chris Hopfauf.

Then Chris Hopfauf showed up fired up.  Both started spewing plenty of accusations and name calling.

“The reason they were able to clean this place up was because of my signature a**hole. Now leave me alone,” said Baker.

“Have another hit, Daeleen,” said Hopfauf.

The two admit to having a long history of conflict.

“She moved in to the alley by my house and was dealing meth in the alley,” said Hopfauf.

Baker rejects those claims, saying she is not a drug user.  She also says there’s a septic tank on site and she does not dispose of her human waste improperly.

While she showed Q13 News papers she says prove she’s allowed to be on the property, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office says that’s not entirely true.  That’s why code enforcement has been out there five times issuing citations.  But neither Ulsh nor the sheriff’s office can get in contact with the property owner so that means little has been resolved.

“The sheriff can’t move the people without them saying they’re not supposed to be there,” said Ulsh.

After putting up security cameras, Ulsh says there’s nothing else he can do.

“As a father, it’s very concerning. I mean I have no idea who these people are. I don’t know what they’re capable of,” said Ulsh.

The sheriff’s office says they’ve reached out to the bank that owns the property but haven’t received a response.  Without a property owner, the sheriff can’t legally force the squatters to leave.  Right now, all of the violations are civil and not criminal.