Who is Erick Shute you ask and how did we come to know these people. The following is my story.
He is the only son of a single working mom. He was raised in Pennsville, NJ and attended private Christian school until 8th grade then switching to public school, he graduated in 2002. He started working as a child on his uncles’ farm helping with baling hay and taking care of horses and cattle. As a teenager, he held multiple after school jobs such as pumping gas, and working in a pizza shop he was always doing something to earn money to buy himself things like clothing or music. He performed in the Oakwood Summer Theater a few times, and attended Barbizon School of Modeling. He received six awards at the International Talent Association show in New York City and held the national title of Mr. Junior Barbizon in 1994. He loves to sing he was always in church choir as a child and as an adult the vocalist in a heavy metal band Pyrexia touring Europe, Canada and the USA two times and recorded multiple songs on CDs.
In public school Erick was bullied by other students, they would push his buttons to get him to react to things like being hit on top of the head with school books or drug down the hallway to the bathroom where several boys would shove his head into the toilet and then flush it. The school principal and teachers would tell me Erick always reacted to these things but he never started them.
As an adult, he has worked in outside sales, selling vacuum cleaners door to door, car sales, he was licensed as a Public Adjuster representing homeowners for insurance claims to get the needed home repairs. He also worked in sales for two restoration companies again helping homeowners after enduring fire, smoke and water damages and as an installation technician for DirecTV.
In 2010 we started looking to move to West Virginia and eventually purchased the property in the summer of 2011 with a friend. We were hoping for a better life. The work began with installing the driveways and bringing down trailer loads of equipment and tools. We had concerns about just leaving things sitting in the woods unattended since we only came out here a couple days per week because there were no living quarters in place yet. We started looking for a security person to live onsite rent free, oversee the property and our belongings. We began placing ads online and on bulletin boards around the area which is how we came to meet William and Travis Bartley.
William called about the ad and he set up an appointment to meet with us. At that time, on their best behavior they appeared to be decent people and we all agreed to allow them to move onto the property. The deal was that they would live there rent free, split the electric bill and provide security for use so things would not get stolen. William told me he had to leave Falling Waters trailer park due to Travis having problems with the trailer park manager and residents with arguing and fighting, they had enough of it, Travis had to change or they had to leave. We decided to give them a try, a few months after they moved in is when things started to disappear.
William had a concealed carry permit and explained what I had to do to get my own. William always carried a 22 pistol on his person and he and Travis use to target practice with us.
Up to this point we had not noticed any of our property disappearing. William and Travis moved their trailer onto our property to provide this security. A few months later is when we started to notice small things at first disappearing. When we confronted them about it they claimed to know nothing about. When asked who else had been on the property they said no one.
At first it was little things like the grill on the Bar-B-Que and the small propane tank attached to it and some hand tools. When we asked about it, of course they denied it, but I had used the grill the last time I was there and put a NJ brand new propane tank on it. The tank had a good clean label on it. Now it had an empty old Falling Waters propane tank attached to it and the grill was not there. We asked Travis about it and he denied knowing anything about it. The next day Jeff walked over to their trailer and found a new propane tank with the label removed from it. There were other small items like various tools, we figured since we were bringing down trailer loads of things on every trip maybe we misplaced them and would find them later. Well, we never found those other things and then 70 gallons of gas was siphoned out of the tank of one of the bigger trucks. We discovered other gas cans had been emptied, 25 sheets of marine plywood and some lumber disappeared as well. And William was talking about how he was helping one of his friends put an addition onto his home. He made some comment about community property.
I had a landline phone installed and told William they could only use it if it was an emergency or they needed to contact us. One day the phone range and I answered it. Some guy was calling asking for Willie and wanted to know why I was answering his phone. I questioned him about this and explained it was my phone and he was not to call this number again looking for any drugs or Willie he should call his cell phone instead. We confronted William about this and he was upset by it. Another time Jeff stopped some female walking across our property looking for William and some pills he had for her.
One time in December I asked Travis to tell his father William the electric bill was due again and I wanted to be paid because he was a couple months behind on his share of the bill. William came out of his trailer all enraged. That’s when Jeff and I both noticed that Travis and William were both glassy eyed and appeared to be high on something. The three of them were nose to nose shouting. William and Travis saying they didn’t care about us or our fucking property. Who did we think we were coming out here just go back to NJ. William shouting that I should not have asked Travis about the electric bill money, who did I think I was to ask him for money. I had never seen them like this before. I was waiting for someone to throw a punch and wondered what would I do if that happened, I had no idea I was really frightened.
Another time I questioned William about phone usage again. On the phone bill, I noticed he was making personal calls on my phone again, plus someone else called my phone asking for Willie. I asked him not to call this number again, instead call Willies’ cell phone. He responded it was Willies’ phone and he would call it any time he pleased. When I confronted William about it he again became very agitated, loud, and threatening. Another time Jeff confronted William about things disappearing and he again became very agitated and loud. The following week when we came down Jeff went to take out the camper van on the road and the brake lines failed going down the mountain he almost had an accident because of it. William and Travis were both very anxious to do the repairs for us. Jeff allowed them to repair the front brakes lines. At this time, we did not realize the rear brakes were also cut.
While all of this was going on Travis was dating Jack Douglass’s daughter Kaylee. They lived maybe a quarter mile down the road from us and we had to pass their place every time we came down. She would tell us horrible stories how her high on drugs father (Jack Douglas) once tied her mother (Melissa) to a chair and stuck a weapon down her throat threatening to shoot her and the kids if she did not tell him the truth. He spent some time in jail for that.
Jack Douglas was definitely not a nice person. Another time according to my neighbors, Jack attempted to bash in “J” head with a tire iron or an ax handle because Jack thought “J” was running with his wife Melissa. He also tried to rape another neighbor “P”, she held him off with a weapon and he eventually left her home. He told Erick he would throw a brick through the windshield of the truck Erick was driving because he was making dust by driving on a dirt road. Jack Douglas was a violent evil person.
When confronted William and Travis denied knowing anything about missing property or anyone being on the property to cut brake lines. Shortly after that we told William and Travis they had to leave, find someplace else to live as soon as possible. Once they were gone I moved down there to live in Spring of 2013.
At first William, Travis, and Kaylee now pregnant with Travis’ child move into an apartment for a while. Not being able to keep up with the rent they all moved back to live with her parents Jack and Melissa Douglas.
Sometime in late May 2016, Clarence McBee, my neighbor, passed away the obituary was in the newspaper therefore people around here know the house was vacant. Approximately a week before the incident took place I noticed a lot of traffic was going up and down the driveway. I contacted his friend Barbara and asked if Clarence had any family and how do I contact them since I felt the house may be getting vandalized because there is a lot of that going on around here. Barbara told me she now owned the property. I asked her if anyone she knew had an older white pickup truck with a green door and she told me “No one had her permission to be on the property.
Sunday evening June 12th Erick is walking the fence line and sees this pickup truck leaving the McBee property, he’s to far away to recognize the driver. Sometime later he hears the same noisy truck coming back down the road and this times recognizes the people, Jack Douglas, Travis and William they are all staring at each other.
Monday morning, June 13, 2016 Erick gets in the truck to go make a water run and part way down the mountain discovers there are no brakes, all he has is the emergency brake. Now imagine your driving down a mountain in a truck with a 400
gallon tank on the back, it’s an eleven hundred foot drop, very winding mountain road and no brakes, no guard rails on this road. You just go straight over the side of the mountain.
He pulls into the driveway and talks to Blaine and they notice something dragging under the truck. Erick explains what just happened and they discover the brake lines have been disconnected. Not cut but unscrewed. Blaine puts the brake lines back together and adds brake fluid and they are in working order again. Erick get the water and comes home a good bit shook up over the ordeal.
This is the second time someone has messed with our brake lines on two different vehicles.
I ask you, do you think somebody out there is trying to harm us?
Later that same day, Monday, June 13, 2016 around 4pm. I was down in the trailer and heard a few shots something told me to go outside, I walked towards the slope and called Erick’s name. I did not get an answer. I slowly started walking up the hill towards the hay trailer. closer to the top, I did see Erick. I did not see anyone else. I asked him what had happened. He told me about the argument that took place and telling them to leave the property as they were not suppose to be there. I asked him to explain he pointed and said over there they’re lying on the other side of the truck. He shot them in self defense. From where I was I could not see them lying on the ground.
We both walked down towards our living quarters very upset and wondering what next. He told me he confronted them about why they were there. Explaining that we had spoken with the owner and she told us nobody had her permission to be there. An argument ensued three against one they came at him stating they were going to mess him up really bad. He fired 2 warning shots, they continued towards him and he told them to leave again, they refused and continued, he opened fire. Erick said he had to leave afraid the cops would come and shoot first and ask questions later. He put down the Weapon, picked up a water bottle and a few other things and left. I didn’t know if I would ever see him again.
I got a glass of water and sat down at the table and chairs in the back yard area for a few minutes to collect my thoughts about what just happened, A while later I heard sirens in the distance. It took about an hour and a half for police to arrive. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement in the distance. I got up and moved to stand behind the water truck for some protection. I called out who are you and what do you want. I heard someone shout to put my hands in the air and walk slowly towards them while asking if I was armed? I responded yes it’s in my pocket. They shout back don’t move your hands or arms or we will shoot you. Walk slowly don’t try anything. I think at this point there were five officers pointing their guns at me.
They ask if Erick was here, I answered no he left. They don’t believe me and got louder, threaten to charge me with accessory to murder, asking where I was when this happened. I responded I was inside. They asked about the mines, bunkers, and booby-traps. I responded there aren’t any. One State trooper asked about the sheets of metal in the driveway, are bunkers under them? Again I responded no there aren’t any bunkers. More threats directed it me. This went on until dusk, approximately three hours.
They asked what I saw and heard. I responded I saw nothing; I did hear some gunfire. How many gunshots did you hear? I don’t remember I hear shots up here almost every day of the week I didn’t count them. Where they slow or rapid fire? Slow. Did you hear talking? No. They asked what did I think when Erick came in and got the gun. I didn’t think anything of it, we usually walk around here armed you never know what you might run into, we’ve killed several snakes, had two bears right outside the door last year a neighbor caught a mountain lion on their game camera a few weeks ago. State police shouting calling me belligerent and asking why am I being so evasive, again with the question, where is Erick, do you hear that helicopter in the air they are looking for him they will shoot him and we will run you in for accessory to murder. This went on for hours some of it on my property some of it standing in the middle of Gamble Lane. Around dusk I was put in a patrol car, not allowed to return to my property, and taken to the neighbors to stay for the night.
Tuesday morning after a several failed attempts I finally get to speak with someone in the Sheriff’s department about getting back onto my property. I offer to unlock the trailers they want to look inside of so they don’t break the locks or doors. I meet with them around 2:30pm they continue searching in many trailers.
Officer Roper again takes me down to our living quarters and makes me go over the entire scene again asking about how many gunshots I heard, I repeated I’m not sure I didn’t count them, again, where they fast or slow? I repeated slow. How many do you think you heard fired? I don’t remember, my neighbor said they heard 4 so I’ll say 4. We don’t won’t to know what they heard what did you hear? 3, 5, I truly don’t remember. Finally; about 5pm I am handed a search warrant and they leave the property.
It used to be in America you were innocent until proven guilty. Now the so called “justice system” will incarcerate you, throw as much mud on the wall as they can in hopes that something will stick, and throw away the keys and say you are guilty until you can spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove your innocence. What has happened to our legal system?
Summer 2017 another neighbor Ed stops me on the road and tells me he misses William, we were friends and he is very sorry for what Erick is now going through. He told me “William used to come over to my place for coffee and tell me about the stuff they stole form you guys when he lived there.”
Although the laws in West Virginia states you have a right to defend yourself, you have a right to defend your property and you have a right to defend your neighbors’ property. But when you try to do this you are persecuted and thrown in the prison defending yourself, for exercising your 2nd Amendment Rights. So my question to you is do you really have the right to defend yourself if you are thrown into jail for doing so; and if you convict a person who has done so aren’t you really convicting yourself or taking away your own rights? What about all the drug dealing, theft, and attempted rape these guys have done in the past is that going to be brought into the light for the jury to see?
His trial is April 9, 2018. His charges are:
- wanton endangerment
- attempted murder in the first degree and
- the use of a firearm in commission of felony.
He may be facing a life sentence for a self defense incident.