Brothers ordered out of 223 Eve St. by Tuesday

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Walter Tankersley (left) and brother Hubert Tanksley leave Magistrate Court today after being ordered to vacate their property by Tuesday.
Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010 11:05 AM
Last updated Friday, Oct. 8, 2010 9:00 AM
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Two brothers still living in a con­dem­ned house in Harrisburg with no power or running water appear to be headed for the streets.
In a hearing Thursday, Magi­s­trate Judge H. Scott Allen ordered Hubert Tanksley and Walter Tankersley – who have different spellings on their birth certificates – out of 223 Eve St. by Tuesday, or face incarceration.
Asked afterward where they will live, Tankersley responded: “In the woods.”
They were summoned to court for ignoring License and Inspection’s order to vacate, issued Sept. 22, after inspectors visited their one-story rental house and found them living in squalor, along with their sister, Rebecca Tankersley, and her three grandsons.
Responding to complaints of a foul odor and an extension cord running from one house to another, inspectors found jars of urine and a bag of feces in the house, a damaged bathroom floor, a sagging ceiling, and more feces and buckets of urine in the backyard. The house was also roach-infested and so crammed with furniture and junk that it created a fire hazard.
Rebecca Tankersley, who rented the house from insurance salesman John B. Weigle Jr., for $550 per month, told the city that she fell behind on utility payments while hospitalized for three weeks after suffering a heart attack. She has pancreatitis and diabetes, her sister told The Augusta Chronicle, and has been living off Social Security payments to two of her grandsons who are mentally disabled.
The week of the condemnation, Code Enforcement Manager Pam Costabile told the family to leave immediately and have their things out that Friday, but the house has continued to bustle with people.
The renter was not in court Thursday because she was hospitalized at University Hospital when code enforcement issued citations. She and her grandsons, ages 21, 16 and 15, are staying at her sister’s two-bedroom trailer in south Augusta, according to another relative.
The brothers’ court-appoin­ted attorney, Chris Hudson, told Judge Allen that they would agree to leave Eve Street next week in exchange for suspended sentences.
“Ultimately, they’re both destitute,” the lawyer said. “They’re poor.”
The judge agreed to issue 60-day probated sentences and not impose fines, but he said if they’re caught at the house after the deadline, he might not go so easy on them.
“Understand, when I say vacate, that means you leave,” Judge Allen said. “You do not come back.”
Hudson asked whether the brothers could have extra time to get their things out of the house, which the judge rejected. He said he read in news accounts that they have a large family, which could help them, and there are outreach organizations in Harrisburg.
“My understanding is that many of your neighbors would be happy to help them move,” the judge said.
Mayoral candidate Lori Davis, who attended the hearing along with fellow Harrisburg activist Butch Palmer, said few people in the neighborhood sympathize with the family because of the nuisance they’ve caused – such as cars and people constantly coming and going, junk in the yard and men milling about. When she sued Weigle in Magistrate Court earlier this year, she called it a “known neighborhood drug house,” though the family strongly denies that.
“They have terrorized this neighborhood,” Davis said.
When her case went before another Magistrate judge in the same courtroom in May, Weigle said under oath that he checked on the house frequently and “would be glad” to have the tenants living next door to him in Forest Hills. However, since the condemnation he has filed eviction papers of his own, saying his renters are behind $320.
Now that they have to be out in five days, the brothers living in the woods or under a bridge is a real possibility, their younger brother Roosevelt Tanksley said Thursday.
Both men came to court walking with canes. Tanksley, 63, has said he suffers from bronchitis and prostate cancer and receives disability checks. Tankersley, 61 – who tucked his cane under his arm and kept walking once he was out of the courthouse – has said he has an injured hip and shoulder.
The family is having a hard enough time finding a place large enough and cheap enough to accommodate his sister and the three boys, Roosevelt Tanksley said. If the men wind up in homeless shelters, they’ll have nowhere to put their belongings.
“They’ll still lose everything they have,” their brother said, “because they won’t have anywhere to put everything.”

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225
or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

HELP OFFERED

Fran Oliver, the executive director of Harrisburg’s Mercy Ministries, said she and her assistant director are still looking all over, trying to find Rebecca Tankersley, 53, and her three grandsons a place they can afford. She’s also hoping they can obtain emergency rapid rehousing stimulus funds to help with the deposit and first month’s rent.
“The truth is, this is not an isolated incident,” Oliver said. “We don’t have a lot of low-income housing, and people often have to choose between paying their rent or paying their utilities.”
As for the brothers, Hubert Tanksley, 63, and Walter Tankersley, 61, they have the option of going to the Salvation Army or Garden City Rescue Mission homeless shelters, in addition to the day shelter at Mercy Ministries.
Garden City volunteer Abe Frazier said there are 50 beds at the shelter, and there hasn’t been much trouble with overcrowding lately. The elderly and the disabled are given preference, and men can stay for up to 90 days.
“I’d suggest they get here about 3 o’clock and sign the list early,” he said. “That may give them a better chance of having a bed, because it’s first come-first serve.”
– Johnny Edwards

Comments (49) Add comment
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omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 10/07/10 - 10:20 am
0
0
calling Mercy Ministries,

calling Mercy Ministries, calling Mercy Ministries. Fran Oliver where ARE you?

Little Lamb
47857
Points
Little Lamb 10/07/10 - 10:27 am
0
0
Yes, big brother has the

Yes, big brother has the power to order people out of their residences. But we can see here that in this case Code Enforcement lied about the condition of the house. They said the family had to get out ten or twelve days ago because conditions were an immediate health hazard. Well, they're still there, proving the place is not as unhealthy as Code Enforcement said.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/07/10 - 10:40 am
0
0
Several churches in

Several churches in Harrisburg offered help for these people more than a year ago and were rebuffed by the Tanksleys /Tankersleys..But where is John Weigle in all of this.. he was collecting rent all this time for a house unfit for habitation by a dog, much less humans.. why can't he relocate his tenants to something that meets basic building codes?

iLove
626
Points
iLove 10/07/10 - 11:29 am
0
0
What is up with this? Why is
Unpublished

What is up with this? Why is THIS family being paraded around like this?

Do you KNOW for a fact that ppl have reached out to this family?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/07/10 - 11:48 am
0
0
yes.. several churches did

yes.. several churches did offer help to them on several occassions. But I agree with what you are saying.. I think as much, if not more attention needs to be placed on the slumlord John Weigle, Jr who knew about these conditions for over 2 years and simply ignored them while collecting rent checks. I wish they would print his photo in the paper.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 10/07/10 - 12:16 pm
0
0
the excuse used to justify
Unpublished

the excuse used to justify the constant "traffic" to the home is that they were "family members" now my question is where are all of the "so-called" family members now??? did they show up in court to tell inform judge allen that they will take in the two gentlemen??? no i think not, just reinforces the belief of those trying to clean up harrisburg and the public in general that maybe, just maybe they were not "family" members at all, but they were "customers"

pommom38
1496
Points
pommom38 10/07/10 - 12:35 pm
0
0
Um, LL? What exactly did code

Um, LL? What exactly did code enforcement lie about? They inspected the place, saw it was far from habitable and ordered the family out. They chose to stay there, hence this court hearing! Code enforcement has nothing to do with MAKING them leave, court order or police can.
They're going to live in the woods? Do they not know there is shelter out there, you just have to find it and want the help?
I do feel for them, because the condition of rotting flooring, roof issues, and other stability issues of the home were not in their control. Roach infestation and the collection of urine/feces yes, they could have done something about that nonsense! Churches do offer food help, utility help, (if funds available) but have not heard of any that offer a place to live.

Quack Quack Quack
696
Points
Quack Quack Quack 10/07/10 - 01:19 pm
0
0
The best place to find a

The best place to find a helping hand, is at the end of your arm!!!

Big_vike
1
Points
Big_vike 10/07/10 - 01:34 pm
0
0
Oh my god, Quack that is

Oh my god, Quack that is classic, I love it....

dani
12
Points
dani 10/07/10 - 03:01 pm
0
0
Don't we have housing

Don't we have housing projects for those with low incomes? Could they maybe find a vacancy.
I saw the video on the news and IMHO it is not habitable and should be condemned, not just vacated.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/07/10 - 03:13 pm
0
0
This was the first time code

This was the first time code enforcement entered the home.. The landlord was made aware of numerous problems with this property more than 2 years ago and ignored them. In fact code enforcement cited Weigle on exterior violations on several occassions.. he was merely given a slap on the wrist and told to fix the violations.. this proves a chronic nature of violations with this property.. not until an extension cord was seen strung across supplying illegal power to the property did code enforcement act and enter the property and find these egregious violations.. And a rotting floor and sagging roof does NOT happen in two weeks! get real.. if Mr Weigle had managed his property properly from the outset and responded to the concerns from the neighbors more than 2 years ago, none of this would have happened, but as long as he was getting a rent check he was more than happy to ignore these issues.

PUPPYMOMMA
1367
Points
PUPPYMOMMA 10/07/10 - 03:16 pm
0
0
Big vike, actually I used

Big vike, actually I used that line to comment on this article about two weeks ago. It is a quote by Audrey Hepburn. It still applies today. The second sentence is that as you get older remember that you have another hand-that one is to be used to help others. Ann Landers had a good one too. No one ever heard of a person drowning in their own sweat. I especially like that one.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 10/07/10 - 03:40 pm
0
0
This house should be TORN
Unpublished

This house should be TORN down.. either that or used as practice for the Augusta Police Department. I'm sure the land is worth more without the piece of junk sitting on it. As for the squatters.... go to Mercy Ministries- that's what they're in BUSINESS for...

Just My Opinion
6064
Points
Just My Opinion 10/07/10 - 04:10 pm
0
0
I think John Weigle should

I think John Weigle should set these people up in one of his properties or help them make arrangements. After all, they are having to leave because HIS property was considered as substandard. If you rent a car and the thing doesn't run properly, you turn it back in and get another. If you rent a movie and it doesn't allow you to see what you've paid for, you turn it back in and get another. These people made a contract, I guess, with slumlord Weigle, to provide them with a place to live...with the unwritten understanding that it is habitable and safe. He failed on his part of the deal, and now I think he should provide for them a place to live. Part of this is because he allowed them to live in this hole for so long, knowing full well how deplorable the conditions were. I will never do business with Mr. Weigle because I think he is a bad person because of all this. He should be ashamed and whoever employs him should be embarrassed.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 10/07/10 - 04:59 pm
0
0
just my opinion..do you not

just my opinion..do you not blame the animal like tendences of the people who actually lived there..maybe just a little??

Dorion
0
Points
Dorion 10/07/10 - 05:35 pm
0
0
Little Lamb, I hope that was

Little Lamb, I hope that was sarcasm. If not, go take your medicine.

Just My Opinion
6064
Points
Just My Opinion 10/07/10 - 05:56 pm
0
0
Blame them for what? Listen,

Blame them for what? Listen, I am not condoning their lifestyle at all...I'm not approving of their living off of the public dole or taking advantage of the welfare system. That is not my focus of my post with regard to this multi-focal storyline. The part I'm dissecting here is the problem of "what to do with them now". A few of them found a home, for the time being, with other family members. These 2 men apparently feel they have nowhere to go, but only because they have declined help that was offered a few times already. So, my issue here is with the man who had originally provided a home for them, a home that they paid dearly for, and a home that was dilapidated and a safety/health concern. Weigle had been charging these people for a home he KNEW was dilapidated and a safety/health concern. Don't you think he has a responsibility here? And if you don't, then how can you justify his being absolved of any responsibility to exchange good money (even if it is welfare money) for a cruddy, run down house? Would YOU let him get away with that if it was you or one of your family members renting that house from him?

corgimom
36419
Points
corgimom 10/07/10 - 06:16 pm
0
0
WHO KNEW that bronchitis is

WHO KNEW that bronchitis is disabling. Bronchitis?

“My understanding is that many of your neighbors would be happy to help them move,” the judge said.

I thought that was pretty funny.

LL, not leaving after eviction is common. And what happened to the brothers is exactly what happens in a case like that- a court hearing is held, the judge issues a court order, if the court order is not complied with, the sheriff's office arrests them.

I guess if they get arrested, they won't have to go live in the woods, will they- they'll have housing. Free of charge.

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 10/07/10 - 06:26 pm
0
0
No matter what the landlord

No matter what the landlord did or how bad the structure may be, the landlord didn't hoard all that stuff and have the conditions of filth for these people to live in. "living without electricity or running water, with jars of urine and a bag of feces in the house, rotting floors, a sagging ceiling, and more feces and buckets of urine in the backyard. The house was also roach-infested and so crammed with furniture and junk that it created a fire hazard." Its not the landlords fault if they couldnt pay their utilities and lived in filth, its not his fault the house is like one of those hoarders you see on tv. Yes he is responsible for the structual part and he should get what he deserves for being so negligent and causing the neighborhood such headaches. But this so called big family that isnt drug traffic allowed their family to live in filth having nothing to do with the landlord. Yet these people have no help and no where to go. That large family not drug traffic line seems more like bull every day don't it?

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 10/07/10 - 06:28 pm
0
0
LL, code enforcement didn't

LL, code enforcement didn't lie because the brothers decide to live in squalor and break the court order by not getting out. Are you kidding me? Hope that was sarcasm. lol

HopeSpringsEternal
0
Points
HopeSpringsEternal 10/07/10 - 06:43 pm
0
0
There are several shelters in

There are several shelters in the area that these two guys could go to-if they are willing to follow the rules. In fact, Augusta has more shelter space for homeless men than for homeless women and children. A warm clothes/coat drive was just held last week for one shelter. On Sept 30th, News 12 kicked off their Time to Care "Warm Hearts" Warm-A-Thon benefiting the Garden City Rescue Mission. People came from all over to the Augusta Mall to bring jackets, blankets and clothes for homeless people who are trying to get on their feet at the Garden City Rescue Mission. The guy running the shelter said he wouldn't turn anyone away so the brothers claiming they have no where to go or will live in the woods is certainly a bit overly dramatic and sounds like a pity party and/or deliberately inflamatory or manipulative at the very least. Life is a product of choices-some good, some not so good. If these guys choose to be homeless or refuse help, then let them face the consequences.

Iamrightyouarewrong
0
Points
Iamrightyouarewrong 10/07/10 - 06:47 pm
0
0
Great....Now they are going

Great....Now they are going to be messing up the woods too.

dani
12
Points
dani 10/07/10 - 11:02 pm
0
0
As a general rule, landlords

As a general rule, landlords do not go out and make inspections. They make necessary repairs when the resident calls with a problem. (This was told to me today by a rental agent. )

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 10/07/10 - 11:06 pm
0
0
funny, because in magistrate

funny, because in magistrate court earlier this year, Mr Weigle claimed he inspected this property "routinely".. and don't forget that Mr Weigle had already been cited on several other ocassions within the last year and half for exterior code violations.. with this history of code violations, it would seem to be incumbent upon Mr Weigle to routinely inspect his property and make sure it was in compliance with basic building code.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 10/08/10 - 06:33 am
0
0
This case so epitomizes the

This case so epitomizes the subsidy story. Abject poverty, two destitute "brothers" that spell their last name differently even though they're brothers, no place to go when tossed from the condemned house they're staying in, unable to care for themselves financially, apparently unaware of the benefits of sanitation and cleanliness.
This is just one extreme example of a city wide disease that needs to be addressed at the root cause. Augusta can grow and improve, but first it needs to be healed. It's a long, difficult job, but it'll never be finished after until we begin dealing with it.

Little Lamb
47857
Points
Little Lamb 10/08/10 - 07:14 am
0
0
Well, there are three of four

Well, there are three of four posts above taking exception to my use of the verb "lie" when referring to Code Enforcement. I understand. I try to avoid the use of that word because it is so often misused. What I was referring to was Code Enforcement's characterization of the living conditions in the house. For them to order someone out of the house requires conditions immediately hazardous to life and limb. They were living in that squalor for some time, and they have stayed well past Code Enforcement's arbitrary deadline. That shows that Code Enforcement falsely characterized the hazard. The place is deplorable, but it is not dangerous enough to justify the order to leave in three days.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 10/08/10 - 08:06 am
0
0
Just how bad would it have to

Just how bad would it have to get to justify them having to leave? The place was a fire trap and a health hazard. You have to wonder just how long John Weigle and the city of Augusta would have let this go on if it were not for Lori Davis. They should all be ashamed of themselves, that it took a private citizen to do their jobs.

I am conflicted, personally, having feelings of compassion towards the poor as well as acknowledging that, we are all called to work. When we (government) encourage others not to work, by enabling them through life long subsidy, there comes a point in time when the well runs dry.

The poor will always be with us on this earth. There are plenty of helping agencies and willing churches in Augusta. The problem for some is that they refuse to accept the rules and responsibilities that go with the help.

RoadkiII
6802
Points
RoadkiII 10/08/10 - 08:45 am
0
0
Tankersley, 61 – who tucked

Tankersley, 61 – who tucked his cane under his arm and kept walking once he was out of the courthouse – has said he has an injured hip and shoulder.

Am I the only one who caught that. I happen to be disabled myself, I found a job I can do. Anyone who doubts me, let me know. I keep a copy of my DD-214 handy.

Grace422
239
Points
Grace422 10/08/10 - 09:01 am
0
0
Almost all lease agreements

Almost all lease agreements include a clause that allows the landlord "Reserves the right" to enter the property at any point in time during the lease if he or she CHOOSE too. Based on the information I've read and seen on TV I think the brothers need to stay at the regional. I suspect they have some mental issues. Who in their right mind wants to live like that. People who lived in the time prior to indoor plumbing and power faired a heck of allot better than this family has. Really who collects their waste when you live right around the corner from several business with BATHROOMS, shoot worst case dig a hole in your back yard and then cover it up. I wonder if the places they bought their food at had any bathrooms?? We have reason to believe they were at least eating.

ruudvonbaron
0
Points
ruudvonbaron 10/08/10 - 10:29 am
0
0
Mr.L.A.Kegbrat Friday, Oct. 8

Mr.L.A.Kegbrat Friday, Oct. 8 10:34 AM It's pretty scary to live in a town where a couple of fascists like Lori Davis and Butch Palmer can get people kicked out of their house.
------------------------
That is just utter nonsense. We have most laws for a reason. If these people can't obey them then like with everything else there will be consequences.

One of these brothers gets a disability check. One walks fine except when he is in court and then he must use a cane. 2 grandsons get disability checks. One grandson is 21......so get a job. Hard to feel sorry for these people.

And WHY isn't Mr. Weigle under arrest for perjury???

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