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Father & Daughter Relocated from Forest Park Slip Away

Fearing they were being tracked by news helicopters, the man and his daughter, 12, leave a newfound Yamhill County home
Where have Frank and Ruth gone?

A month ago, a man and his 12-year-old daughter abandoned their 4-year-old hermitage in Forest Park for a Yamhill County horse farm. Now, they have seemingly vanished into the spring air of Oregon's coastal range.

Portland police Sgt. Michael Barkley, who found a place for the homeless pair to live on a friend's farm, said he has been unable to find Frank to tell him about $6,500 deposited into a relief fund by donors around the country.

Barkley said he last spoke to the 53-year-old former Marine two Saturdays ago. While he was happy to have a job on the farm, Frank was uneasy with news stories about him and his daughter.

Police have withheld their last names to protect their privacy. Still, Frank said it had gone too far. He told Barkley that television news helicopters kept showing up in the sky over the farm.

Frank felt "hunted" by the helicopters, Barkley said, and feared that kids would call Rut, "the Forest Park hillbilly" if her face showed up on TV.

"He was talking about leaving the state," Barkley said. "He said, 'We love it here. We don't want to leave.' But he expected the TV cameras to show up any day."

Frank and his daughter were living in a mobile home on the farm.

If there were helicopters trying to find the pair, they didn't belong to any of Portland's news stations, according to news directors. None of them tried to track down Frank and Ruth from the air.

Barkley said their departure was more of a flight than a disappearance. Last Monday, Frank and Ruth gathered their belongings from the mobile home, expressed their gratitude to the owners and left.

Parishioners at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Cornelius, where the father and daughter showed up at services and other gatherings on bikes, said the pair departed without leaving a phone number or address.

"I have a feeling they have gone under again," said the Rev. Ronald McCallum, pastor of the church. "They're trying to stay private. And if they stayed in Forest Park for four years, they could be almost anywhere."

The father and daughter were discovered in late April by extreme cross-country runners "hashing" through a dense, wooded area of Forest Park above U.S. 30.

The pair told police they had lived at their elaborate camp dug into a hillside for four years. Police questioned them extensively.

They were clean and health. Ruth, who was home-schooled with a stack of thrift-shop encyclopedias, was well-spoken beyond her years, police said. A physician and state child-welfare investigators found no evidence of abuse, according to police reports.

Frank, a college graduate who served in Vietnam, told police that he came to Oregon with no job and little money. The girl's mother, he explained, was institutionalized in New Hampshire.

A devout Christian, Frank said he didn't want to live on the streets and risk exposing Ruth to drugs, alcohol and crime, so they hiked deep into Forest Park.

Last Wednesday, a pack of runners revisited the creekside campsite. Some reported seeing Frank and Ruth there. Bret Lubic, who was at the rear of the group, didn't see them. "But I saw books stacked up there," he said. "The lean-to shelter was up, and the garden looked tended to."

Although it is possible that the father and daughter visited the site, Barley said he doubts they have re-established the camp. "Frank knows that if he ever goes back up there to live, Ruth will be taken from him," he said. "It's crystal clear to him."

A North Precinct officer went back into the woods to check the area Friday. Although park crews had yet to tear down the old shelter, the officer reported that there were no signs it was being used again.

Department of Human Services officials weren't tracking Ruth and her father because there were no signs of abuse, said spokeswoman Patricia Feeny. "And the child being educated, and apparently well educated," she said. "It was just a beautiful human interest story."

Moved by the story, which appeared everywhere from newspapers to outdoor adventure Web sites, many people responoded by donating money to a fund to help with living costs and the girl's education.

About $6,500 deposited at Bank of America branches has been transferred into Frank's personal account at Wells Fargo Bank through direct deposit, Barkley said. It is impossible to know if the man has withdrawn any of it.

Eleven days ago, when Barkley last spoke to Frank at the horse farm, he said he was preparing to enroll his daughter in the local middle school. He said he wanted Ruth to experience a normal Oregon childhood.

Yet nothing seemed certain.

Frank said news helicopters seemed to flying along the cvoast range, searching for the right farm. He said they sometimes flew so low he could see their station logos.

Sunday morning, Barkley drove to Cornelius and waited for the pair to show up for services at the Lutheran church. They didn't come.

-- Joseph Rose: (503) 221-8029
 josephrose@news.oregonian.com

run free 02.Jun.2004 12:34

t

I am sure they will be ok if we (society) leave them the hell alone.

why do we feel the need to fuck with them? 02.Jun.2004 12:47

evolution

what is our obsession with these people. they are obviously ok and want to be left alone. why can't we respect their wishes? are they not humans as well? it's so scary that they don't want money or a bank account. now that's revolutionary! these people can live without depending on our more civilized capitalist society! oh my god, bring out the tanks! what is the world coming to?

it's funny that this dad and his daughter can live like this but many of us here at indymedia talk about it but can't seem to do it. or maybe we don't want to...maybe we like our bank accounts and our processed food and our computers a bit too much. either way, i think it always freaks people out when they realize that others don't care to live like them. or that they are 30 and college educated yet more stupid than a 12 year old girl who was brought up in the woods with a few encyclopedias. this story should open our eyes to a lot of things. and one of those is that most of us that take part in political activism aren't so revolutionary after all.

just a thought
yr pal...evolution

hear hear 02.Jun.2004 13:28

Teddy Ruxpin (the lousy typist)

Evo, you hit the nail right on the head. Bravo.

police propaganda 02.Jun.2004 15:36

bbb

the cops would love to say the media did it. we have no real way of knowing thier not still where they moved to. would also make a good roos to make the media go away. problem is I don't think the media are even looking for them. they had told the story and are locked on the corvalis missing woman now.

Can this possibly be true? 02.Jun.2004 17:30

James

"Although it is possible that the father and daughter visited the site, Barley said he doubts they have re-established the camp. 'Frank knows that if he ever goes back up there to live, Ruth will be taken from him,' he said. 'It's crystal clear to him.'"

Who would take her, and with what legal justification? What if you were to take your child on a commune, would that be justification as well?

I think Barkley must be wrong. I can't imagine the state child services bureaucracy would agree with him.

it's probably true 02.Jun.2004 18:05

government worker

Child protective services in Oregon and in other states have a long history of removing children from parents like Frank who choose an unconventional and unsanctioned way of life.

They should have been left alone; if it took 4 years to find them then they were clearly being unobtrusive. I hope wherever they find themselves next will be more private.

Best wishes.

G-dspeed "Ruth" 02.Jun.2004 20:06

nomad

The christian fundamentalist-capitalist orthodoxy--the white settler establishment--is virtually defined by its "missions of concern" for the "welfare" of others.

When a target is identified, the fussing and meddling is fueled by the pandering corporate media culture molesters.

The official welfare/public safety infrastructures are compelled to react actively.

I can't think of a community or region in the U$, except maybe some places in remote NE Vermont and W Maine--maybe the Idaho panhandle or some places in W Montana, too--where this organic, integrated, healthy family tribal unit might be allowed to learn and grow in sustainable, post-industrial, self-determination.

Godspeed 02.Jun.2004 21:35

North Portlander

Three comments:

1) I wonder if those Australian "hashers" can sleep at night, knowing the damage they have wrought.

2) Simply removing the father and daughter from a situation in the woods with which they were comfortable and relocating them in a trailer on a horse farm was a simplistic "solution" at best. Did no one take it to the next level and consider that an offer of counseling for Dad might have been appropriate and that maybe NOT saying anything to the local media and simply relocating them would have been in the best interests of the two? No, obviously their presence offended the city's idea of what was "right" and, panting for good press, the officer was all too eager to share the details with the local news.

3) Finally, I cannot look at this situation - and the Iraq debacle - without thinking that Frank is a perfect example of a traumatized veteran of former conflict who fell through the cracks.

We can look forward to a lot more Franks in the coming years. He deserves a medal for coping and producing an intelligent, educated daughter despite the obstacles.

Child Protective Services - the most inapt name ever for an organization 03.Jun.2004 00:45

GRINGO STARS

With anonymous tips, CPS can take your child away from you, and then give them to a foster home (where statistically they are much more likely to be abused). If you do ANYTHING which would lead ANYONE to disapprove of how you raise your child, your parenthood is not safe.

I hope they escape their hunters.

remove the child?!?!? 04.Jun.2004 06:40

staciared2 staciared2@yahoo.com

When did it become illegal to live in a camp? That child had been better cared for than many children living in $250,000 homes. Threatening to take the child would have made me run as well. I don't doubt the media was circling in helicopters as there is money and ratings to be made from exposing this poor family. I am extremely glad that Ruth's father thought more of her than to sell her to the media.

Freedom is becoming an extinct dinosaur in this country. What a shame.

Stacia in Texas

Ruthie's Education Fund no longer exists 15.Jun.2004 17:28

davina

I just found out from Bank of America that they have stopped accepting deposits into Ruthie's Education Fund account because "frank and ruth can no longer be located". They don't accept checks for that account anymore!?