Obviously, if Langton had this kind of clout with the court, I made the right decision on the night of June 13, 1991, when I decided to take my children and family and run to Utah where my original divorce had been decreed.

Brittany and Joshua were placed in a foster home for the night. Of course, this was exactly what Oleson and the Ladenburgs had in mind. This would give him the small amount of time he needed to secure a judge’s signature in the jurisdiction where he was, 150 miles away, to take the kids away from me.

I had no idea what Oleson was doing. All I knew was that a corrupt legal system was railroading us.

I talked to our neighbors, my boss, and all those who knew us and told them what had happened. They were astounded and were determined to help us get our kids back and escape the abuse of the “small town justice” which many of them had experienced in the past.

My boss, Shane Morris, provided me with his brand new 4×4 truck, (L-8AGAIN), money, and a big hug. The Kreis family and others, offered us support in taking care of our land and farm animals until we could find justice somewhere else.

The next morning I planned to call the Department of Family Services and ask to take some clothes to Brittany and Joshua and assure the kids that everything would be all right. Kathy Ostrander spoke with me about 10:00 A.M., and told me she would try to arrange something and call me back to let me know when I could bring the clothes.

We waited desperately for her call. The call came about 1:00 PM., Kathy Ostrander advised me that she had received an order from the County Attorney’s office instructing her to turn the children over to Paula pursuant to a judge’s order. “What!” I exclaimed. I caught myself quickly before I lost any composure and said very sincerely, “Well, I guess your department knows what is best for the kids, so we will cooperate.” “But, please, please set up a time that we can say good-bye to the children and give them some clothes to wear.” Ostrander said she would set something up and call me back.

When I hung up that phone, I was more determined than ever to get my family out of Montana. “How in the hell,” I yelled out, “can a Judge sign an order to take away my

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children without talking to me and getting my side of the story?” However Oleson did this, I didn’t care. I was going to take my children and run for justice.

When our neighbors and friends heard what had happened, no preacher in the land could bear to hear the words that left their lips. If only we could again, elect attorneys and judges, and their true actions known, Montana would have all new ones after the next election.

Ostrander called back and told us we could come and say goodbye to the children at 2:00 P.M.. It was already 1:30, so Jackie and I threw a few things in a bag, said good- bye to our friends and left for Hamilton in our 1974 Mustang.

My mind was going 100 miles an hour as we drove the 25 miles to Hamilton. As fast as a computer, I thought about what I was going to do when I entered the Department of Family Services. I decided that I would stay calm and follow my instincts, something which one police officer later commented where “some of the best criminal escape instincts” he had ever known. I figured that if what had just taken place was any indication of the thinking mentality of the law enforcement of Ravalli county, it wouldn’t be too tough for me to outsmart them.

When we reached Hamilton, I went to our bank and closed our account taking all the money we had.

We proceeded to the Department of Family Services where I met Kathy Ostrander in the front lobby. Luckily, Brandon, who was three at the time, had fallen asleep in the back seat of our car, so Jackie stayed with him and Caleb, who was one year old.

I smiled at Ms. Ostrander and held up the bag of clothes I had brought to give to the kids. Little did she know that the only clothes in the bag were a few sets of underwear Jackie had put in there for our escape. I put on my charm and could see the confused expression on Ostrander’s face as she probably wondered why such a kind man would marry such an abusive woman that would take advantage of my children. I didn’t care what she was thinking; I had her where I wanted her.

I entered the room where Brittany and Joshua were. Both were crying and Joshua ran and clutched on to me and said, “Daddy, I don’t want to go with Paula!” That little boy clutched on to my arm as if he was drowning in water. Brittany buried her head in her arms and cried. I asked her what was wrong and she responded, “I want to go live with Paula.” What ever was going through that little girl’s mind, I’ll probably never know. Paula had somehow manipulated the poor thing to the point that she became confused as to what really was taking place.

I put my arms around Brittany and she immediately turned toward me and hugged me and wept. I was confused. What was the cause of her confusion? Why did she say she wanted to live with Paula and why couldn’t she look me in the eyes. For a good moment I held Brittany as she cried. I comforted her by telling her that she was going to live with Paula, but that Jackie and her little brothers wanted to say good-bye to her. She calmed down and put her hand in mine as I arose from the table at which we were sitting.

I told Ostrander, who appeared teary-eyed herself, that Jackie was out in the car with the sleeping children. I took Brittany by one hand and Joshua, who had never let go of me for a moment, by the other and was heading out to the car to say good-bye to Jackie, when I made a decision which almost brought me to uncontrollable sobs.

I looked at Brittany and saw the little girl I had raise by myself since she was two years old. I saw the little one who had asked me the many questions which any little girl

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would want her father to answer. I saw the little hand that held mine as we went on many father/daughter walks alone. For just a moment, I was back on that motorcycle with Brittany sitting in front of me, smelling the innocence of her clean, blonde hair as it lashed tenderly at my face by the oncoming wind. “I’m going to miss you sweetheart,” I thought to myself.

Not knowing what the consequences would be, I decided not to take Brittany with me, but let her go with Paula. I left her in the Department of Family Services by saying, “Brittany, you wait here and Joshua and I will go get Jackie and your brothers and we’ll come back in and say good-bye.”

I left the building with Joshua at my side and Kathy Ostrander about four paces behind me. When Jackie saw Joshua, both of them wept profusely as they held each other tightly. I looked at Ostrander and said, “This is bull-shit!” as I put Joshua in the car and shut the door.

Stunned, Ostrander told me that the police were going to arrest me if I took Joshua. “Well, wish them good-luck,” I said as I gave her a very vindictive smile and drove off.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

THE GREAT ESCAPE

I calmly drove through downtown Hamilton and took the back roads leading to Corvallis where Shane Morris lived. While in route to my boss’ farm, Joshua said, “I hate Brittany!” “Why,?” I asked, being very surprised at his comment. “Because she lied about you and Mom (Jackie).” Not really understanding what he meant by this, I didn’t push the issue. Joshua was very happy to be with his father and the only family he had known since birth. He said he hated Paula and Carl for trying to take him away. I assured Joshua that Paula and Carl would never take him away from his dad again. I assured him of this, trusting that I one day justice would be served for what had happened to our family. I never realized that the promise I made to my little boy would turn out to be a broken one that would emotionally affect him for the rest of his life.

We drove to my boss’ farm where he had “L-8AGAIN” gassed up and ready to go. We squealed to a stop in his driveway. He traded me sets of keys, helped put the kids in the front cab, gave me a hug with tears in his eyes, and said, “Good-luck, Chris. May God be with you and your family!” He waved and shook his head as I yelled out the window that we would leave his truck somewhere where he could come and get it.

I hid Jackie and the kids behind the seat of the extended cab of the truck. I took off my shirt and pulled down my bib-overalls that I always wore, so as to be less recognizable. Our plans were to go North to Missoula, Montana, where we were going to buy a used car and leave “L-8AGAIN”. I took a county road that ran adjacent to the highway that went to Missoula. As we were proceeding, I could hear many sirens on the nearby highway racing towards Victor, where our land was located. I bypassed Victor on back roads and eventually made it to Missoula.

We arrived in Missoula at one of the worst times possible for finding a motel room where we were going to rest, change our clothes, buy a car and plan our next move.

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The local University was holding its commencement services and all the relatives of the students were visiting and staying in the local motels. We drove to three motels with no success. Finally I found one that didn’t have a room available, but had a sister- motel down the street where they had made arrangements to send their overflow. I asked the clerk if she would call the motel and see if she could get us a room. The clerk made the call, found out that there was a room available, and asked me what my name was to secure a room. There I was, hadn’t slept for 36 hours, unshaven in a pair of bib-overalls. “Tell them to save it for Dan, a farmer,” I said meaning for the clerk to let them know they could recognize me by my appearance as a farmer. (I always enjoyed having fun in unpleasant situations, so I was not going to stop at this most unpleasant time.) The clerk gave us directions to the motel and we left.

When we arrived at the motel, I went to the clerk and told her I had been to the other motel and they had sent me here for a room. “Oh, you must be Dan Farmer,” she courteously responded. “Yea,” I sheepishly responded, “I’m him.” The clerk smiled, registered me in a room, and handed me the key.

We were most fortunate, as one might conclude later, that the motel where we were staying had a front door and a back door. We parked “L-8AGAIN” in the front area, planning to park our new, “used” car in the back. We went to the room and collapsed for a moment on the bed. Jackie was extremely tired and the kids were rambunctious as ever, thinking what an exciting vacation they were on.

I went to a nearby store and bought us some sweat clothes to wear, some food for the kids, something to shave with, and some scissors so Jackie could cut my hair. When I got back to the room, I could see the strain the ordeal was having on Jackie. At that moment, I felt sorry I had brought her into this situation.

Jackie was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and lived in the same house all her life until she married me. Her father is a successful pharmacist and her mother worked as an office manager for a dentist where Jackie also worked as a dental assistant for many years before marrying me. All who knew her loved Jackie. She was her parent’s favorite because of her love for others and her ability to cook. How she ended up in a Montana motel room running from the law after such a normal, peaceful childhood, is another story in itself.

Nevertheless, Jackie was at my side. She knew the lies against her were malicious and wrong, so she was intent on seeking justice with me. There is no way that I could have convinced her to leave me and let me run by myself. She was my partner and remained so until the end.

I looked in the local paper and found a car for sale that we could afford. I called the guy and told him that our car had broken down and we were staying in a motel. I said that we needed the car as soon as possible, but had no way to come and get it at his house. I must have been pretty convincing, because the guy was a college professor who felt leery about selling a car to someone staying at a motel, fearing that perhaps it was a set up to steal his car. Whatever his justification for doing so, he showed up with the car and his wife.

Once he met us, his fears subsided and I proceeded to concoct a story to try to get him to let us use his license plates until we got to Idaho, where I told him we lived and would immediately send them back to him. He didn’t feel good about this and refused to let us keep his plates. He obviously watched the

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…television news that evening, because when he saw my picture and that I was wanted for kidnapping, he immediately called the police and reported the incident. How stupid he must have felt- the poor guy.

I took off the front plate of “L-8AGAIN” and put it on the front of our new car. Then I made the first mistake of my getaway.

I had to let my boss know where his truck was, so I called his house but no one answered. I remembered that he had a good friend that worked at the Safeway in Hamilton. I didn’t know it at the time, but his good friend had a wife who didn’t know me, but knew that I thought all born again Christians were lunatics. Shane Morris was a born again Christian, but he knew I held my opinion in jest. Shane and I had discussed religion on many occasions and I believe he came to respect my views enough that he began to discuss some of the things we talked about at his church. He must have mentioned my name to other members, because he later told me how much this particular woman detested the views I held.

Anyway, I called up the Safeway and asked to talk to the manager of the grocery department. I couldn’t remember the guy’s name, but knew he was the manager of the grocery department. He wasn’t working that day, but I found out his name and got his home number from directory assistance. I called to leave a message with him to give to Shane. I trusted this guy somewhat, so I thought I could tell him where I had left “L- 8AGAIN”. When I called, his wife answered the phone. I proceeded to explain where I had left the truck. She was very nice on the phone, and had already heard about what had happened and wished me the best of luck. Little did I know that she would hang up the phone, call the police, and anonymously give them the address where I was at. I had no idea this lady hated me enough to do this, nor did I concern myself in the least. However, about 30 minutes later, I announced to Jackie that we had to leave immediately. What prompted me to do so, I do not know. Jackie was tired. She tried to convince me that we could stay at the motel for the night, get a good rest, and leave in the morning. I don’t know why, but I was determined to pack up the kids and leave for Idaho.

The second mistake I made was to call my best friend, Kyle Williams, in Idaho Falls, Idaho collect. I called him and explained what had happened. Kyle knew me well and offered any assistance he could to help. Stupid me! I forgot that the motel had a list of all the calls made from that room. I didn’t think about that at the time I called Kyle to tell him we were coming.

We packed the kids in the car, and left out the back way where our car was parked. When we drove around the front of the motel, there was a police car with two officers getting out. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and joked to Jackie, “Boy, wouldn’t that be funny if they were looking for us?” Little did I know, but they were. I guess Shane’s blessing of, “…May God be with you and your family,” paid off.

 

….

The next morning, June 14th, was a Friday. Oleson must have been up at the crack of dawn wondering what he was going to have to say to the Judge to get him to sign an order to take the children from me and put them in Paula’s custody.

On this morning, Oleson managed to prepare an “Amended Petition For Contempt of Court And For Modification Of Decree Of Divorce”, miraculously have Paula Ladenburg, who was 150 miles away, sign it, get Samantha M’Less, who resides in Kalispell, (remember 150 miles away from where Paula Ladenburg was at,) to notarize Paula’s signature, file it with the clerk of Flathead County Court, find Judge Leif B. Erickson, a District Judge in Flathead County, convince him that the allegations made in the amended complaint were valid enough to get him to sign an order taking my kids away, and then fax the order to Jeff Langton, his legal conspirator 150 miles away in Hamilton, Montana.

I guess Langton couldn’t afford a fax machine, because Oleson had to fax the “speedy” order to Mary M. Interiors, a business down the street from Langton’s office. The fax date and time is clearly printed on the faxed copy of the order: June 14, 1991, 09:53am.

Boy, did Oleson hustle to get all this accomplished before 10:00 am!

Now, Oleson had made his second vital mistake. He had Samantha M’Lees notarize a signature that she did not witness in person. The person who Judge Erickson assumed had signed the amended petition was Paula Ladenburg who was 150 miles away.

Oleson had to have faxed the order to Hamilton, had Paula sign it, and fax it back to him where he had his secretary, M’Lees, notarize the document. Needless to say, M’Lees broke the law. She witnessed that Paula had signed the petition in her presence: “Subscribed and sworn to before me this 14th day of June, 1991” Signed: Samantha M’ Lees, Notary Public for the State of Montana, Residing at Kalispell, Montana.

Anyone could have signed Paula’s name to the document; how did M’Lees know it was Paula who signed it?

This flagrant disregard for the law did not deter Oleson who was able to convince Judge Erickson that being with me would harm the children irreparably, and that an immediate order was what was needed to remedy the situation.

All of the sudden, a District Judge, who later became a Federal Judge, was guilty of unethical jurisprudence. How in the world does an unbiased judge take children away from a parent he has never met, spoke to, or had any time at all to review the allegations against? The answer is simple, and could be one of the biggest abuses of “the system”: The Judge knew the attorney personally, had probably been to his house for dinner a couple of times, had a few drinks with him at times, played a few rounds of golf, and had been associating with him for the better part of 25 years. No unorthodox, poor farmer fighting for his children in Victor, Montana was going to ruin this camaraderie!

Oleson knew that he could not put allegations of child abuse in the petition for an order, though this was the only legal justification he had to take the children away from me, because they were not, nor could they ever be proven to be true. However, he filled the petition with other lies which he must of assumed could be proven later in court, but will be shown hereafter to be nothing more than that what they were- lies. With the perjured document, Oleson convinced the judge to sign the order.

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Where Oleson got Judge Erickson to sign the order is unclear. Whether in his chambers or at his home, Erickson in no way had enough time to review, or let alone, think twice about the order he was signing. But with one stroke of his pen, he took away my children.

Oleson makes four main accusations against me in the petition (See appendix I), and all four are blatant lies and manipulations.

Allegation one states as follows: “…that all the paper work that was signed (alluding to our original divorce in Utah), was signed in the office of Richard S. Nemelka; that at that time, the Petitioner was led to believe that there would be no problems with this divorce, or subsequent thereto specifically as relates to child custody and visitation periods; that that is one of the reasons why there was no child support included.”

Did Paula lie to Oleson, or did Oleson lie to the court?
In chapter three I explained the truth:
“I had arranged with my father to have him go to Montana and get the kids and

have Paula sign the custody papers. He went and met with Paula at her parent’s home. Alvin and Dora Mae Blades sat at their own table; and in the presence of my father, Michael J. Nemelka, my mother, Gloria, and my sister, Paulette, watched their daughter sign over custody of Brittany and Joshua to me. My father later told me that they protested and told Paula not to sign the papers. At that time, Paula wasn’t listening to anyone but Paula, so she did not hesitate to sign the papers. (See appendix B for the papers Paula signed, along with the affidavits from my mother, father, and uncle attesting to how the custody of the children was transferred)

The second accusation states: “That pursuant to said Decree of Divorce, Respondent has failed and refused, and continues to refuse, to allow Petitioner to exercise the “liberal rights of visitation” ordered therein….”

Of course, Judge Erickson had no idea that Paula and Carl Ladenburg had just tried to kidnap the kids during one of their supposable visitations which I, “…continues to refuse…”. Oleson flagrantly lied to the court to manipulate it into thinking that I was not letting Paula see the children or that she has never had the opportunity to sue me before to secure visitation rights to her children.

In the third accusation, found in article IV of the petition, Oleson alludes to my moving around to keep the kids from Paula. He lists states where I have never lived, and forgets to tell the court that Paula knew exactly where I was in both Missouri and Washington, and could have sued me had she wished.

Oleson goes on to contradict his previous allegations that I continue to refuse Paula to visit the children when he alludes to the fact that Paula has in fact seen the children. He then perjures himself even more by stating, “…nor could she speak with said children outside of the hearing of the Respondent….”

Again, I ask, “Did Paula lie to her attorney, or did the attorney lie to the court?”

The final allegation states, “That the living conditions the Respondent has subjected to said children is deplorable, i.e., living in a bus that has been refurbished…”

In chapter five, I state, “We took possession of our land on the 1st of May, 1991. The family from whom we had bought our land was building a house adjacent to ours, and as of yet, did not have it completed. We told them it would be okay for them to stay in our home, because we had the renovated school bus I had made into a nice mobile home for us.”

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In appendix J one will see a newspaper article written quite awhile after the June incident when we were once again forced to live in, (according to Oleson’s petition), “…living conditions … deplorable…” However, at the time the newspaper article was written, we had parked the bus in a good, family oriented neighborhood where all the neighbors knew me, my family knew where we were, Jackie’s family knew where we were, and many people, including a reporter from a local paper, had visited our bus and didn’t seem to mind the “living conditions”. Oleson had never seen the bus, and the Ladenburgs had taken some videos of it during their visit to Washington when they, by the way, took the kids on an overnight visit, certainly “outside the hearing of the Respondent”, (unless of course in can be assumed that the Respondent is Superman), to Carl’s aunt’s house.

Again, who lied to whom?

The petition filed by Paula Ladenburg, and the subsequent order issued by the judge, were not only illegal, due to the fact that Paula was never legally witnessed as to signing the petition; the fact that a District Judge 150 miles outside the jurisdiction that we resided in signed the order; and the fact that I was never served a copy of it in order to be afforded the chance to answer the false allegations made therein; but far worse, it was unethically signed by a busy judge who obviously cared more about his upcoming appointment to the Federal Bench than he did about a poor family who had just been railroaded by a corrupt system of justice and his “legal comrade”, H. James Oleson.