Squatters arrested at homes owned by elderly, infirmed

Police are accusing Occupy Portland protesters of exploiting the elderly by squatting in their houses.

According to police, at 11 a.m. on Feb. 9, officers assigned to the North Precinct Neighborhood Response Team , with the assistance North Precinct officers and Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jim Hayden, cleared a vacant house of squatters in the 5600 block of Northeast 14th Avenue.

Police say officers located documents in the house indicating the occupation was part of a larger, organized effort to victimize elderly property owners. According to police, one handwritten letter located at the residence contained the statement:

For the better part of 2011 the squatter community in Portland has been focused upon houses owned by an elderly bankrupt lady named [name withheld by Portland Police]. The idea was that we might have a better chance at survival if the landowner was, as our research could tell, a batty old lady and her bed ridden husband.

Those arrested during the raid include:

• Alexander Nicholas Ayers, 28, who was booked for second-degree theft, second-degree criminal trespass and on a warrant for failure to appear.

• Molly Maxine Garmire, 29, who was booked for second-degree criminal trespass.

• Benjamin Lee Miley, 23, who was booked for second-degree criminal trespass and third-degree criminal mischief.

Additional material related to the local anarchist and Occupy movements was also present, police say.

An investigation is continuing into other Portland-area homes. For example, at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, North Precinct officers responded to a call of a burglary in progress at a residence in the 4900 block of North Minnesota Avenue. After they arrived, the officers spoke with the property owner who told them nobody was supposed to be in the house.

The officers then contacted two subjects inside the house and arrested them for trespassing. Additional material was located inside the house indicating links to the local anarchist movement, as well as addresses of other local vacant houses, boxing and mixed martial arts sparring equipment, and literature about picking and defeating locks, police say.

The homeowner in this case had recently been hospitalized and that was when the squatters moved into his residence, police say. Arrested in this incident were Kerry Cunneen, 26, Michael Desmond Welch, 24, for second-degree criminal trespass.

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