Humble dwellings of Crabtree family,
neighbor says boys once lived in chicken coup
By Bob Weaver
Railing against government interference is part of our daily lives, the laws and rules that are put forth to protect us from ourselves and each other.
There is much to rail about.
We are sometimes enthralled by the likes of rancher Cliven Bundy who has been standing-up for his "constitutional rights," declining to pay a million dollars in grazing fees on public taxpayer land, taxes his fellow ranchers have dutifully paid.
There is another side to those who proclaim their "rights."
In the case of six Wirt County children who have been ignored by officials, Al Hogan, Director of Helping Hands Crisis Ministries and Al's Barn, said the children have been brainwashed, living a lie, losing their ability to learn how to live and understand the rules of life.
Their father, sixty-one-year old Wirt County resident Randy Crabtree (left) of Munday was reported to be a member of the Freemen Society, a group that believes that statute law is a contract, and that individuals can opt out of statute law, choosing instead to live under what the group calls "common" (case) and "natural" laws.
Crabtree has exercised his beliefs for years, even in Florida before he moved his wife and six children to the backwoods of Wirt County about 13 years ago. More recently, without due process, he declared he and his families last name to be Hammer.
The Crabtrees, according to local sources, had no birth certificates or Social Security numbers, a position held to the heart of anti-government groups.
Wirt County school records indicate they never spent a day in public school over many years.
In Wirt and Calhoun County, law enforcement had charged Crabtree with numerous violations over the years, mostly driving a vehicle without a license plate, no driver's license, registration or insurance.
While sometimes Crabtree might have paid the fines, at other times he fought back using his "Freeman Society" stance. In Calhoun County his case against such charges, filed by the Calhoun Sheriffs Department, went to the Supreme Court, a court that ruled against Crabtree and he spent about a year in jail.
Crabtree, over the years, spent considerable time forwarding information about his constitutional beliefs and attempting to recruit others to his stance.
Now, Crabtree and two of his adult sons have been arrested for incest and the sexual abuse of one of his three young daughters, the daughter left the family compound to report the abuse.
While state and county officials have long ignored local complaints regarding the well-being of the children, a cadre of about 25 officers with SWAT team armament descended on the Crabtree property in April to make the abuse arrests.
"Many departments of our government were notified by myself and many others, but instead of help, we were told that Randy Crabtree claimed he was living within his constitutional rights to live as a common man," Al Hogan said. Hogan believes some officials did come to the property to investigate.
MaryJane Albin, Superintendent of Wirt schools, told the Hur Herald that the system has no record of the six children attending public schools, although a complaint was filed in 2002 with Wirt County Magistrate Janey Wigal about the children not attending school.
The magistrate found the Crabtree parents guilty of failure to send their children to school and fined them $50 and $110.25 court costs.
The Wirt magistrate court said no other charges were found regarding the matter since 2002.
Superintendent Albin did not confirm if the Crabtrees had ever applied to the Wirt County Board of Education for home schooling, apparently no such records found.
Al Hogan, Director of Helping Hands Crisis Ministries & Al's Barn (left) at Munday, said "Together with so many care-giving people from all over, our hearts were touched by the six children, very well mannered, polite and helpful to all."
Hogan said the children at times lived in tents with no water, electric or heat, the community often supplied them with clothing and food.
"At one time the boys lived in a chicken coup with the chickens," he said, indicating their father spoke with military dominance.
"We all gave money, trailers, wood stoves, four wheelers and tons of other things to help them. I never dreamed I would see this in the USA."
"These kids were abandoned by our state and totally ignored and allowed to be brainwashed and forced to live in defiance of our laws that protect all children," he said.
"Many departments of our government were notified by myself and many others, but instead of help, we were told that Randy Crabtree claimed he was living within his constitutional rights to live as a common man," Hogan said.
Some neighbors of the Crabtree family, who requested to remain anonymous, said this situation barely made the WV news cycle, and will likely fade because it is an embarrassment that officials did not stand up.
"I think officials got baffled by Mr. Crabtree's exhortations of his so-called constitutional rights," said Hogan. Others told the Hur Herald that officials were fearful and did not want to engage in court battles.
"These kids have been brainwashed, living a lie."
May God help them now," Hogan concluded.
See THREE WIRT MEN CHARGED WITH INCEST OF FAMILY MEMBER - Father Accused Of Sex With 12-Year-Old Daughter, "Task Force" Makes Arrests At Munday