Skip to comments.Forest family had an elaborate camp among trees
Posted on 05/21/2004 11:39:30 PM PDT by Reagan is King
Forest family had an elaborate camp among trees
PORTLAND, ORE. - A man and his 12-year-old daughter spent the last four years living in a remote hillside in Portland's Forest Park, police said.
The pair was discovered in a dense, wooded area by an Australian cross-country runner and his wife.
They reported seeing an older man with white bushy hair and a beard, and a young girl at what appeared to be a "well-established transient camp." They called police on April 28.
That afternoon, North Precinct Sgt. Michael Barkley sent four officers on all-terrain vehicles to find the pair but they didn't find them.
"We had very little to go on, " Barkley said. "There's no way you could not do everything you could because it was a report of a child living up there."
The next morning, the runner escorted police to the site.
After an hour-and-a-half hike, police found an elaborate camp dug into a steep hillside.
Under a tarp-covered, wood-framed shelter, they found sleeping bags, a partially burnt log, a Bible, a stack of old World Book Encyclopedias, rakes and other tools.
Sgt. Barkley talks about finding them How the two were discovered
A rope swing, a tilled vegetable garden and a small creek were nearby.
A police dog found the pair huddling behind a tree about 50 yards from the camp.
The man and girl told police they had lived in the park for four years. The pair appeared clean, well-fed and healthy, Barkley said, and the girl was well-spoken beyond her years.
The man, who identified himself as Frank, told police he was a 53-year-old Marine Corps veteran and college graduate who served in Vietnam.
He came to Oregon with his daughter, Ruth, from Tacoma with no job and virtually no money. Frank told police that the girl's mother was institutionalized in New Hampshire, and the two now lived on a $400-a-month disability check.
Rather than live on the streets and expose Ruth to alcohol and drugs, Frank said, they hiked deep into Forest Park and built a lean-to.
The pair went into the city twice a week to stop by the bank, attend church, buy groceries and clothes from Goodwill. Frank, a devout Christian, said he taught his daughter using the old encyclopedias.
They grew vegetables and used the nearby creek to keep clean. They stored perishable foods in a small pool of water at the creek's edge.
The man and girl told police that the runner was the first person to find their camp in four years.
Their biggest worry was being split up, Barkley said.
"Please, don't take me from my daddy," the girl told the 26-year police veteran as they sat on a log talking for at least 30 minutes.
Barkley, who has a 6-year-old daughter, said he was struck by the relationship between father and daughter.
"What was so clear was that their living conditions were unacceptable, but their relationship was a real deep love and caring for each other," Barkley said.
Officer Joe Campbell, who helped find the pair, said separating the pair would have broken their hearts. "Their whole lives seemed to revolve around each other," said Campbell.
A pediatrician found the girl free of any illness, any signs of physical or sexual abuse - and no cavities. A criminal background check came up empty, according to police reports.
Even though the child and father lived for such a long time disconnected from society, the girl had been home schooled and was in good physical shape.
In fact, the girl received a very good education from her father while living among the trees. Officials said the girl, who would be normally in 7th grade, is at a 12th grade equivalency.
"When we interviewed this little girl, she was very impressive. She really was very responsible, and she really looked as though she was way advanced in her years," said Portland Police Cmdr. Scott Anderson said.
KATU Television has been given permission from 'The Forest Family's' father to set up a college fund for 12-year-old 'Ruthie.'
To make donations for the girl, who for the last four years have lived in the forest and was educated by her father, to 'Ruthie's College Fund at any Bank Of America Branch.
Police say the father was ecstatic when KATU offered to set up a college fund for his daughter.
The father has done a wonderful job of educating the girl, says police. She reportedly performs at a 12th grade level.
Police persuaded them to leave the camp, promising help them find food and shelter.
The pair spent two nights at a homeless shelter. Barkley found the man a job and a place for the two to live on a friend's horse farm in Yamhill County.
Now, Barkley said, the pair are living in a mobile home and adjusting to life with heat, electricity and electric water.
The man mows lawns and is learning to drive a tractor, and the pair ride bicycles to a nearby church on Sundays.
"The amazing part of this was the fact that Sergeant Barkley really evaluated what was best for these people," North Precinct Cmdr. Scott Anderson said. "Sometimes police would be a little quicker to hand things off to state workers. But instead ... he saw this through to the end."
Bump. Posted before, but well worth the repeat.
Great story. The cross link has contact info for Sgt Barkly
What was so unacceptable about them? Disease? No. Famine? No. Pestilence? No.
Oops, they left "Forest family" out of their title and that's what I searched for. Thanks for the link.
Reagan was the greatest president this country has known in modern time. No doubt.
A happy ending. God bless this Cmdr, Scott Anderson, for keeping this out of the grasp of the social services bureaucracy. And of course, God bless Frank and Ruth. They have shown just how worthless, nay dangerous, our public education system has become. But then, homeschooled kids regularly outperform their peers, by a wide margin.
Getting used to running water and electricity will be tough for them, but somehow I think they can hack it. It would be interesting to read a follow-up on this girl in about 5 years to see how things go for her. She is already ready for college, sound like.
They weren't paying taxes.
Learn to reed and rite! Its
No publick skools!
(I'll have you now I am a prowud grajuate of our prized sistem of co-earthed math misejakation.)
Bump for later review.
I wonder if Eli and I will get a story like this when in 10 years we move out into a cave in west Texas?
A salute to wisdom among the good officers.
This story reminds me so much of you.
No, because there are to many like you already out there..
You'll be scrappin' for elbow room.
Let's see...the Father took her into the woods so she wouldn't be exposed to alcohol and drugs...and now he's "ecstatic" to send her to College! Yikes, this guy is out of touch!
When I first began reading the story, I thought that the father would be thrown into jail and his daughter placed in a foster home. I was pleasant surprised at the outcome.
Wow you obviously did not go to school at all! PUBLIC SCHOOL!! Besides there are better things in life than MTV. I would love to have a connection with nature like that. People are so ignortant. I think they had the right idea why poison your child with today’s culutre.
Ummm.... that post is 7 years old. I don’t hold much hope for you, newbie.