Neighbors’ beef ends up in civil court |

Neighbors’ beef ends up in civil court

When John and Ethel Wilkerson of Rough and Ready woke up last Friday morning, an uncanny sight greeted them from their kitchen window.

Two freshly slaughtered cattle skulls sat about 5 feet from their back fence, on their neighbor’s property, facing theirs.

An exasperated Ethel Wilkerson, 77, called the skulls on neighbor Lonnie and Susan Jueck’s property “The most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

On Monday, a Nevada County Superior Court judge granted the Wilkersons a three-year protective order against the Juecks. Three other neighbors were granted temporary, two-week protective orders against the Juecks pending another hearing in two weeks.

The appearance of the cattle heads on the Juecks’ property marked the culmination of five years of building code and water rights disputes between the neighbors.

Judge Albert Dover also ordered Lonnie Jueck to turn his firearms into the sheriff’s office for the next two weeks, until the next hearing. Under the order, Jueck would be allowed to sign out the firearms for a day if he planned to go hunting.

The Juecks agreed to comply with all three orders.

“I have not been on (John Wilkerson’s) property,” Lonnie Jueck told the judge. “I have no problem not talking to him.”

After the hearing, Susan Jueck expressed her surprise over her neighbors’ allegations.

“This is the first we’d heard of all the complaints,” she said. “It’s crazy.”

An altercation on March 3 triggered neighbors John and Ethel Wilkerson and James L. Brown and Jeanette Grace – all of Stagecoach Way in Rough and Ready – to file the protective orders. Jocelyn Merlo, 49, Brown’s domestic partner, was included on Brown’s request as a household member also seeking protection.

As John Wilkerson, 79, explained to Judge Dover, he and his wife were relaxing at home last Tuesday afternoon after she had spent the morning at a doctor’s appointment. Then he said Lonnie Jueck approached the edge of their property, claiming he wanted to talk.

Wilkerson said he had asked Lonnie Jueck not to come near his property after he allegedly had threatened Ethel Wilkerson.

Wilkerson alleged that Lonnie Jueck yelled to Wilkerson, who was inside his house. Using profanities, Jueck allegedly said, “Come on out here. . . .I want my revenge.”

The so-called revenge, as John Wilkerson explained, stems from a building code violation on the Juecks’ property that Wilkerson reported to the Community Development Agency. According to Wilkerson, the CDA ordered Jueck to move his smokehouse away from the road three years ago. This cost him $40,000, Jueck told his neighbors.

After the ruckus on the Wilkersons’ property last Tuesday evening, a sheriff’s deputy told the Wilkersons that Lonnie Jueck could not be cited for harassment because the Wilkersons hadn’t filed a restraining order against the Juecks.

“Usually, in a case like this, we advise people to pursue a restraining order against an individual,” Sheriff Keith Royal said.

The three neighbors decided to file their requests for protective orders at the same time.

Monday’s hearing included allegations by Grace that Jueck had physically attacked her, while Brown alleged that Lonnie Jueck had threatened to shoot him in the past. Jueck denied both charges.

Brown also expressed concern that the situation among the neighbors could escalate if left unchecked.

Lonnie Jueck denied that the cattle skulls facing his neighbor’s property were meant as a threatening gesture.

“The two cow heads are Dexter cattle, with unique horns,” he said.

“They’re drying out in the pasture. I’ll turn them around if (Wilkerson) wants.”


To contact Staff Writer Jill Bauerle, e-mail or call 477-4219.

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