From Left to Right: Richard Finegold, Michael St. Pierre, (top) George Abrantes, and (bottom) Ruth Brooks
By Doug Parris
When dying people trust someone they can frequently be induced to give away all they have.
In August, 2014, Michele St. Pierre, a heroine to thousands in the Tea Party and Ron Paul movements, lay secretly bedridden and barely able to eat, extremely weak, and enduring the first major crisis of a cancer she had kept hidden from the public eye. Friends found her on the threshold of death. Her only care giver then was her boyfriend, Richard Finegold, a man afflicted/gifted with Savant Syndrome: that is, he had outstanding talent in one area but severe social disability. (Richard is a computer genius but needed Michele to take care of him. He is incapable of caring domestically for himself, much less a terminal cancer patient.) They were living in filth and not eating.
They had moved back to Western Washington from the Sourdough ranch for Michele’s health care. Michele’s Stanwood house was in the I-5 corridor near many providers. The “Sourdough” ranch, by contrast, was in the extremely remote Aeneas valley. About five and a half hours, for example, from the Providence Regional Medical Center where Michele would eventually receive emergency transfusions.
To make matters worse, by August 2014 Michele faced a foreclosure sale on the modern 3-story, 4.71-acre Stanwood house (valued at $482,850 by epraisal.com). Despite realistic options to prevail, Michele had neither will nor energy left to fight the foreclosure.
To help Michele meet that 2014 crisis and save her property, one of her friends, on Michele’s behalf, called in the woman known to them both by the alias DEBRA JAMES. “Debra” was believed highly skilled at property transactions and dealing with foreclosure. Not licensed to practice law, Debra, nevertheless, lived (under more than one name) by providing legal services and she prospered by securing people’s trust. Debra was so engaging, so personable, so “concerned” for her clients, that people who would normally undertake due diligence, lapsed. She told varying stories to various people about many things including her qualifications and name. She claimed, for instance, to own a law firm, to hold a doctor’s degree in clinical psychology and to have saved thousands of people from foreclosure. Debra’s preferred method of “protecting” property was called a “TRUST” agreement, where you trust someone enough to place ownership and control of your most valuable items in their hands.
Over the next few months Debra demonstrated her ability to get full control of things.
While Michele’s closest friends sanitized the Stanwood house, brought in food, fenced out animals, repaired plumbing, talked with doctors, sought out medical information and gave Richard relief, “Debra,” with regular access to Michele, carefully and gradually produced “information” that, like the “law firm she owned” and her “PhD,” she had simply made up. Between September, 2014 and May, 2015, Michele’s closest friends were “discovered,” one-by-one, to be violating her privacy, or using her, or slandering her, or stealing from her, or even attempting to kill her. In her vulnerable condition, Michele began trusting Debra and accepted individualized accusations constructed against each of those closest to her. Following each false accusation Michele ejected her real friends, one by one, without discussion. Most of Michele’s closest friends and advisors had been banished from her friendship by the end of 2014. Debra’s “PhD” in psychology even drove a wedge between Michele and Richard, diagnosing Richard with “Asperger’s” and convincing Michele that he was incapable of taking into account other people’s feelings. All those that were capable of protecting her from Debra, were gradually weeded out in this way. Debra had become her only remaining advisor.
Except for James Faire
James Faire and Angela Nobilis, you see, had been in Okanogan County, out of Debra’s line of fire. They had been asked to rescue Michele and Richard’s abandoned Sourdough ranch and had responded with extensive work on that property. This was well known to all within Michele’s close circle, including Richard Finegold.
But in February 2015 they drove west to the Stanwood house to pay a visit to their friends Michele and Richard and discovered the conditions that resulted from the ejection of Michele’s other close friends, leaving only Richard, George Abrantes, and Michael St. Pierre in the house.
“The physical appearance of the room Michele and Richard spent their time in was horrific…” The pungent smell of rotting flesh filled the room. Dirty dishes and clothes were piled high everywhere. Richard Finegold, a formerly-high-paid computer expert had been reduced to subservience to Michele, abject menial servitude, living like a dog on a mattress on the floor of Michele’s room and endured constant verbal abuse from George Abrantes. He had not worked in more than a year, depleted his savings and his 401k and he and Michele were virtually penniless. There was no food in the house.
Debra had eliminated Michele’s support group, (those who had originally brought Debra in) those who lived close enough and were willing to give their time to care for Michele. They had been banished and barred from returning.
In their absence…
I – Michele had tried and failed to secure government social services.
II – Richard had run out of money.
III – And the only volunteers available were:
1 – George Abrantes, the huge, emotionally disturbed truck driver. But George had lived there for a year and did almost nothing to help with care.
2 – Ruth Brooks, Michele’s childhood friend, was a professional caregiver. But Ruth lived in Tennessee, needed to make a living, and had gone home.
3 – Michael St. Pierre, an admitted former heroin addict from Southern California, was Michele’s brother. But Michael was living in the house when James and Angela visited in February and had not prevented the wreckage they found, and
4 – Richard Finegold, Michele’s devoted submissive, who expressed open gratitude at being totally dominated by Michele. But Richard had severe social disabilities and, as we have seen, was incapable of caring for Michele and barely able to care for himself.
James and Angela stepped in, put their own lives on hold, moved back to the six-bedroom Stanwood house, and went to work, full time, to save Michele.
Angela washed clothes, cleaned, cooked breakfast and dinner and did most of the dishes. James did property maintenance and auto repair. Angela started an online fundraiser through “GoFundMe” to address the desperate financial need. There was no heat in the house so they made an online call for firewood and organized the response: some had trees, some had cut wood, some had chain saws, others labor. James and Angela worked all day on a Saturday collecting the result. Angela got a job cleaning a house to buy food. James took a job, too, and what he didn’t need to buy gas he gave to Angela to buy food for the whole household. Michele and Richard were at death’s door, physically and financially and James and Angela saved them from starving.
All this proved to be a real problem for Debra.
James Faire could ruin her plans because he could now, potentially, protect Richard and Michele from Debra’s manipulation.
By the time of her death, Debra had used her position of TRUST to gain control of Michele’s Stanwood Property, her Clearview development property, and was closing in on Richard’s Sourdough property. She did this with carefully constructed fabrications; “confidential” information whispered behind the target’s back. Most of this has been uncovered following Debra’s death.
Michele had signed away the Clearview 5.37 acre development property (she owned free and clear) for no legitimate purpose during her first real health crisis in the summer of 2014 and was on track do the same with the Stanwood house, putting them both in the name of Debra Lynn Stuart Emery James Long’s live-in California partner, Michael Fritch. Although Michele probably never learned it, Public Records show the Clearview property has already been used as security for Fritch to acquire $25,000 (in some form) from a California rare coin dealer using a Deed of Trust document that was not lawful when written (RCW 61.24.010) and not recorded until after Debra and Michele, both, had died. Where this money went no one yet knows. (Another Debra claim was to have over a million dollars in precious metals stored up.) But the only motivation for Richard to do anything with the Sourdough property, if he was without Michele, was to be rid of the responsibility through selling or leasing it… because Richard had only bought Sourdough for Michele. It was her dream, he had neither the skills nor inclination to use it for any purpose. It would just be a tax burden. Richard, by his own admission, is an “inside guy not an outside guy.” And the market in the Aeneas Valley was depressed.
James and Angela, by contrast, actually could use the property. With Michele gone (and everyone could now see she shortly would be) it would not be long before Richard and James would come to an agreement and Debra’s dreams to steal Sourdough would be gone. Debra had to get Richard and James separated…
Debra responded very creatively on two fronts. The first was a bait-and-switch property fraud, the second, good old trusty slander.
Summoning survivalist sentiments, Debra erected the vision of a sort-of Sourdough cooperative where everyone, Debra included, would combine their talents, efforts and resources to live off the land and protect themselves from the roving bands of marauders that would come in search of food after “the collapse.” Debra spun lots of ideas about how this would work. She said she had a “dumpster” full of AR-15 assault rifles hidden illegally in California (she thought would appeal to James). She said everyone would bring their tools and stuff to Sourdough, contribute $5,000, get a “share certificate” and go to work growing food and doing daily living tasks and preparing defenses. But none of her ideas included any written agreement. Clearly Richard would need a trust to handle such an enterprise. She began pitching the idea to James and Angela in April.
Also in April (2015), Debra, planted the behind-the-back slander. She had “uncovered” that James and Angela Faire had “stolen” money from the GoFundMe campaign that Angela had created to raise funds for Michele. The accusation is not only false, it is impossible. The GoFundMe campaign never belonged to Michele or Richard. Nothing in it could have been “stolen.”
The “cooperative” land scheme didn’t work out so well with James around. He was the only one of Michele’s closest friends remaining that wouldn’t simply “trust” Debra — that demanded a written agreement. That was a real obstruction to her total control of that property. For weeks Debra told James she was negotiating a written property agreement on their behalf with Richard but that Richard wouldn’t budge. Meanwhile she was pressuring Richard to give away the property to a “trust.”
The behind-the-back slander worked much better. All of her “insiders” — Michele, Ruth, George, Michael and Richard — believed (or acquiesced to) the undocumented accusations based on their trust in Debra, her dominant position with Michele, and their belief that she was an “expert” in these things.
On April 28, after James and Angela discovered the accusations, they accounted for all the funds, but presenting an accounting was a fool’s mission. Debra apologized to their face and maintained the lie behind their back. Debra was really good at what she did. Debra James’ Gang (Ruth, George, Michael, and Richard) simply followed their new leader. As Michele wasted away, they trusted Debra to know what to do.
On April 29 James and Angela left Stanwood, convinced there was nothing further they could do for Michele. But they continued to negotiate (fruitlessly, of course) with Debra for a formal agreement with Richard over Sourdough. Torpedoing that agreement was the whole point of the slander from its beginning.
The morning of Monday, June 15, her body having been wracked with cancer, cannabis, expensive proprietary boutique nutrients, and morphine, Michele St. Pierre passed from this life to the next.
And the James gang began to swing into action. At Debra’s instruction some kept the death secret from Michele’s thousands of friends and admirers, while they ransacked the house, in violation of law, as they divided Michele’s personal property.
The evening of June 15 (Monday) Debra met James and Angela at the Ram Brewery in Marysville and entertained their last offer for an ongoing agreement on Sourdough. She lied to them. She told them Michele was still alive and Richard would not make a decision. They decided to go get their things from the ranch and move on.
On Wednesday, stirred up by Debra’s lies with hatred for their former benefactors, the James gang packed up Richard’s car, took Michele’s SUV and made an “emergency” trip to the Aeneas Valley to frame James and Angela for trespass and theft.
Debra was the “expert.” Everyone followed her lead, and, for the most part, just did what they were told. Richard did not expect his false accusations (of James and Angela to the police by phone on the 17th) would result in any death. He was just getting even for Debra’s imaginary “theft.” Neither Ruth nor Michael cared about seizing the Faires’ property, they just believed what they had been told.
The only flaw was George
Deeply frustrated with his life, weight, career failure and self-image, George compensated by abusing Richard and others much smaller than his 350+ lb. stature. But Angela had stood up to his threats because George feared James.
And this was his chance to redeem himself.
When James and Angela drove on to the property on the 18th, all the cars had been hidden. A neighbor who James had asked to drop by the property earlier had let them know James was on his way. When his truck came into view, Debra dispatched Richard the half block to the nearest landline to alert the police to the “thief/trespasser” her lies had framed. (Contrary to the sheriff’s report to media the following day there was no “confrontation with the owner.” The owner was next door making a phone call.)
It was planned that they would surround the truck. It was planned that they would detain James and Angela until the police could arrive.
But George Abrantes’ pent up frustration exploded unexpectedly into fury. He made the biggest mistake of his life and touched off lethal violence he can never live down.
Within minutes chaos ensued, the architect of TRUST lay dead, George lay screaming in pain, and the carefully led gang was left floundering, leaderless, eventually dispersing across the deserts of eastern Washington and disappearing into the unknown reaches of a vast country, their remaining friends lost in grief and confusion at how this all came about.