By Cornelia de Bruin
Triplicate staff writer
A blighted property success story evolved last week into a saga of drug bust and property condemnation.
Scottsdale, Ariz. businessman Victor Wiger made headlines last month when he responded quickly to the county's notice regarding a nuisance problem on property he holds title to.
Within days of being contacted by county code enforcement officer David Mason, Wiger traveled to Crescent City and spend about $6,000 of his own funds to pay a contractor to rid the area of its eyesore.
About two weeks later Mason and a sheriff's deputy returned to the property to contact its occupant, Debra Prater.
Prater wasn't there, but Mason noticed several people vacating the home at 2241 Railroad Avenue via the back door.
"I looked at the deputy with me and told him there might be a good chance her house is being burglarized," Mason said.
As the pair entered, those inside the house began to flee across neighboring yards and into the woods.
Suspicions further roused, they radioed for help and were able to detain several of those leaving.
"It was like rats running from a sinking ship," said Det. Sgt. Steve Morris.
They also found evidence of drugs and drug use.
"There were used syringes all over the house, in the cat box," said Morris. "We found a small amount of heroin and loaded syringes."
When the pandemonium settled, Mason contacted Wiger in Scottsdale and condemned the property, based on his observation of its condition.
"It was severely dilapidated," Mason said.
He sent a notice to Prater, who opted to find somewhere else to live after she stored her belongings in a secure place.
This time the demolition, which happened Thursday, dug a little deeper into Wiger's pockets ¬ó $8,000 to $10,000 worth.
Local contractor Fred Weigel, who was familiar with the property, offered to bill Wiger only for time and material.
"It's an end to a sad saga," Wiger said. "It was also the last straw for the county."
With the immediate situation taken care of, Morris is working on a request that District Attorney Mike Riese charge Prater with providing a place for the use and distribution of controlled drugs. He did not arrest her because of health concerns.
"It's because I'm a nice guy," he said.
Also arrested were Rosco Reidel, 30, Robin Rankin, 45, Jeffery Childre, 64 and Anthony Starns, 39.
Morris said Reidel fled from officers twice and was tased by them in order to prevent a third attempt to run.
Rankin was arrested for an active warrant for a drug court violation.
Childre was wanted on a charge of being a parolee at large.
Starns was wanted on a charge of failure to appear.
Morris expects to submit his request to Riese Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.