CALGARY — A woman has seen her Calgary rental home for the first time since a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen was removed from the property last week.
Rebekah Caverhill has said the man claimed the duplex as his “embassy” shortly after moving in and she has spent nearly two years trying to get him out.
Caverhill cried Friday as she toured the beige-brick duplex with a throng of reporters and cameras.
Windows were covered with towels, clothing was heaped on floors and dirty dishes were piled in the kitchen that smelled like rotten food.
Alphabet magnets on the refrigerator spelled out the word “respect” and a sign on the door of one room called it a meeting place for people of the “First Nations Sovran Embassy of Earth.”
Caverhill said she was glad her father wasn’t alive to see the mess inside the building he used to look after.
“He would be so upset. He worked so hard. He had everything so pristine,” she said.
“And this looks like a complete reno, like a knocker-downer, rather than a nice house.”
Caverhill said she rented the home to Andreas Pirelli in November 2011. A friend had recommended the man and he promised to do some work on the place in exchange for a few months’ free rent.
A few months later, Caverhill went to inspect the property and said she found the kitchen and bathroom had been gutted, all the inside doors removed and the floor of one bedroom painted black.
Pirelli identified himself as a follower of the Freemen-on-the-Land movement, claimed the home as an embassy, changed the locks and placed a lien on the property, she said.
The kitchen didn’t appear gutted on Monday, but was messy. Renovations to other parts of the home appeared to be half finished.
Doors had been replaced, but weren’t painted and light-switch plates were missing.
In the basement, there was a room filled with computers in various states of assembly.
Last week, a court ordered the 48-year-old to vacate the rental property.
But before he could be evicted, police arrested him on outstanding warrants from Quebec.
He was charged with pushing a landlady down a flight of stairs in Montreal in 2007. An arrest warrant was issued in 2010 when he failed to show up for his assault trial.
The FBI considers the Freemen-on-the-Land a domestic terror threat in the United States but followers in Canada have said violence is not part of the movement.
Several other followers also living in the Calgary home left on the weekend. Police then searched the home and the locks were changed again.
Caverhill said she’s glad the nightmare is over. Now, she has a lot of cleaning up to do.
“Life goes on, doesn’t it? And you pick up the pieces and you move forward.”