Woman says she is target of misaimed anti-drug campaign
Beverly Beale sat at the kitchen table in the comfortable and rustic Paradise home she’s owned for the last 20 years and tried to explain her predicament.
“I used to enjoy my house,” she said. “I used to have barbeques and people over but anybody who comes by now seems to annoy them.”
The “them,” she refers to are her neighbors, John and Marianne Deurloo, who five years ago moved into the house next door along rural and rough Duncombe Drive off Bille Road.
Two weeks ago, in a media-steeped ceremony, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey unveiled two new signs planted along Duncombe Drive. The signs declare the six-house neighborhood as a “Drug Free Zone,” which basically means anyone busted for drug trafficking or possession while in this area will not be able to plea bargain if found guilty.
The zone designation came about by the dogged and tireless efforts of the Deurloos, whose home sits next to an alleged drug house, which also happens to be Beale’s house. For 20 years, the neighbors say, all manner of unsavory characters have made their way to the end of the cul-de-sac where the targeted house sits.
Beale, an attractive grandmother, shakes her head and nods toward the Deurloo’s house, which looms above her side patio where the hot tub sits. She recalls once when she had friends over, including their 12-year-old girls, the neighbors called the cops to say there was a “sex party” going on at the Beale home.
In fact, she says, the Deurloos call the cops and report the make of car and license plate of anyone who drives past their home, through the gate and down the sloped driveway that leads to Beale’s house. Beale said that when service people or contractors drive to her home, the neighbors call their places of work to report an employee is visiting “the drug house.”
Once, she said, a private detective visited and after he left was pulled over by a Paradise police officer while driving back through town, all based on a call from the Deurloos.
The Deurloos, who’ve told the Paradise Post and the Enterprise-Record that they stopped counting the number vehicles visiting over the years once it reached nearly 500, said they are tired of the suspected drug dealing and verbal and mental abuse they’ve received from Beale’s visitors and tenants.
And it continues, said Marianne Deurloo, despite the zone designation.
“It’s really scary,” she said. “Basically we are getting real clear indications of a gang mentality in place. People walk by and flip us off.”
John Deurloo told the E-R that once while he was away on vacation, someone over-inflated the tires of his vehicle “hoping to cause a blow-out or something.”
Deurloo said she and her husband took on the drug-house battle after the other neighbors “threw up their hands” in defeat and gave up. She said she and Beale have exchanged no more than a few words while they’ve been neighbors and that Beale attended only one of the neighborhood meetings held in Paradise Town Hall as part of the process to establish a drug-free zone.
“At the time my dad was sick and my dog had just died,” Beale said. “I had other things going on in my life.”
Beale, a divorcee and retiree of PacBell, doesn’t deny that she’s had some troubled tenants over the years and says one was arrested.
Court records show that Kurtis Donald Duncan was arrested by Paradise Police April 14, 2002 while sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked at the end of Duncombe.
“I had received information regarding heavy vehicle traffic, possible narcotics traffic” at Beale’s house, Sgt. Greg McLaughlin testified in court. He said he found five packets of crank, each weighing two-tenths of a gram, in the car.
On June 4, armed with a search warrant, officers raided the house and found two spoons “with a white powdery substance stuck to them,” five hypodermic needles, two plastic bags containing .24 grams and 1.2 grams of meth, a pay-owe sheet and one tab of ecstasy.
Duncan admitted, according to court documents, that he sold drugs “once in a while” to support his own habit. He was convicted and, based on prior arrests and convictions, was sentenced last October to the upper penalty of three years and eight months.
So when the signs went up two weeks ago, Beale was surprised .
“I used to get upset," she said, "but now I just blow it off. It does get depressing. I just want to be able to live in peace."