NH Squatter’s Cabin Burns to Ground After 27 Years of Living There Illegally
81-year-old David Lidstone has lived off the grid in New Hampshire for almost 30 years. But now what's going to happen?
According to ABC News, David, or 'River Dave' as he's known by the locals who see him near the Merrimack River, is in jail. He has lived in a cabin in Canterbury with solar panels, growing his own food, cutting his own firewood, and even taking care of pets and chickens. But he's on property he doesn't own and the landowner says he's been a squatter all those years.
While he has been jail and court, his cabin burned to the ground this week! Making matters worse and more complicated. They are still investigating the fire.
Dave has been in jail since July 15 for civil contempt. He was told he could leave jail if he just left the cabin he was in. He refused and has been in jail since. He told a judge this week:
You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em. I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.
The judge and everyone agrees, that River Dave isn't hurting anyone, but the law isn't on his side. He may be breaking the law, but he has a lot of fans who are trying to help him raise money to pay the property taxes. But even if the taxes are paid, and the landowner says he can stay - there are more problems. Like the cabin violating local and state zoning and environmental regulations, and there was no access to a road. Some hope they raise enough money to get Dave a legal place of his own.
The cabin was tucked away a few miles outside of I-93 hidden by trees. It's part of 73 acres that is used for its timber. The same family has owned the land since the '60s. Dave said he had a verbal agreement with the owner...but that doesn't count.
Although the cabin was destroyed, most of Dave's things were taken out before the fire. Dave said in court that he's met the owner and likes him, but that the whole thing is bunk.
He’s a heck of a nice old man, I’ve talked with him a couple of times. This is not his fault, this is not my fault. It’s lying, cheating corrupt judges like you that are stepping on little people like me. But I’m telling you, sir, you step on me, I’m going to bite your ankle.
River Dave has kept pretty much to himself over these past 27 years and has had no trouble with the law. He's a U.S. Airforce veteran and has 4 kids. His 77-year-old brother Vincent said that living in the woods is exactly how Dave wants to live. They lost touch with one another over the years, but he remembers loving growing up together in Wilton, Maine.
Right now no one is sure what will happen to Dave, but the hope is he gets to live out the rest of his life in a cabin in the woods of New Hampshire.