558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
No leads in who vandalized signs along Madras highway
Gerald Keller says he was surprised his signs were vandalized
Prineville residents Gerald and Brenda Keller display the damage done to one of three signs on their property last month.
December 10, 2012
Prineville resident Gerald Keller always felt that his signs prominently displayed on his property might invoke some sort of retaliation.
Nevertheless, when he saw that someone had vandalized them with black spray paint, it still caught him by surprise. On the one hand, he expected someone to try and do something about the signs, but vandalism never occurred to him as an option.
“I wouldn’t cross onto someone else’s property and do something like that — that part I can’t imagine, really,” he said. “Depending on your level of respect for people, if you don’t have any respect, that’s what you come up with.”
The three signs in question include bold accusations and statements about retired Crook County Circuit Court Judge Nielsen and current District Attorney Daina Vitolins. He began displaying these and 23 other signs on his property following a 2010 arrest where he stopped his vehicle to confront a Bureau of Land Management firefighter driving a Humvee fire engine. Nielson presided over the case in which Keller was later convicted of Interfering with a Firefighter and fined $150.
For Keller, the signs provide him his only means of justice, since he cannot appeal the decision.
“That’s why I am coming back with this determination that I am not going to be persecuted in the town I live in,” he said.
Keller found the vandalized sign on the Saturday evening of Veteran’s Day weekend. He reported the incident to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office who conducted an investigation into the incident. So far, no suspects have emerged.
In the case report narrative, Deputy Adam Castille explained that he had searched the property for footprints, but could not find any. He pointed out that “it snowed the night before and the snow had subsequently melted throughout the day so that no footprints were able to be found around the signs.”
In hopes of provoking a breakthrough in the case, Keller has decided to offer a $500 reward for any information leading to the lawful arrest of the people responsible for the vandalism.
“People usually can’t keep their mouth shut very long when they do something like this,” said Brenda Keller, Gerald’s wife. “That is why we are offering a reward.”
Gerald does not care about the expense of the reward — he is willing to increase the amount if enough time passes — and does not care about the $450 cost of replacing the damaged signs.
“It’s not a financial hardship,” he stressed. “I will replace them no matter what happens.”
If Keller finally finds out who vandalized his signs, he only asks that the people responsible face the penalty of law.
“Bottom line for me is just have them treated fairly,” he said. “I don’t have any ill will toward anybody. Fairness and justice is what it is all about.”