Corruption Politics

Bizarre harassment case in Lewis County, Kentucky exposes corruption

By | Rachel Brooks

November 17, 2020 

Aerial view image of the property created by Dustin Wilson, submitted to court records, fair use. 

The Cabin Creek Covered Bridge of Lewis County, Kentucky appears to be a tranquil, historic dream getaway on the surface. A wedding destination wreathed in a shroud of uncertainty, overshadowed by the unprecedented and bizarre acts of social violence in the area. From the exploitation of children to the slaughter of cats and dogs for spite, no one has been spared. 

While this seething public sentiment was always in the undertow of Lewis County, it was never brought into the light. Until the most recent owners of the Cabin Creek private residential property made their case in Fiscal Court, and blew the lid off a boiling cauldron of public scandal. The fiscal court meeting that was the pivotal escalation moment in the corruption of Lewis County occurred on October 14, 2019. In this meeting, the private property owners provided damning evidence that would lead to months of personal hell for them and a complete shakedown of the sabotage of basic First Amendment Rights in Lewis County. 

Escape to Cabin Creek 

Carrie Cox has always been a public servant. She is a forensic psychological profiler, as well as public relations expert, and a conflict management consultant. Cox has worked with many high-profile cases. She testified on SB120 a criminal justice reform bill. In addition to being a crime and conflict consultant, she is a writer. She is the author of Alligator Alibi. 

She, and her husband, an architect, took these stakes of the life of a crime fighter in stride. The two had been married for years but didn’t particularly believe in a state-recognized union. Eventually, Cox’s husband reached the place where he would like to form a state-recognized union. They had enough of the world of murder and mayhem and wanted to semi-retire in a peaceful place.

It was a series of events with innocent intentions. A family friend knew the perfect place for a weekend getaway, a place to seal the vows. The Cabin Creek is adjacent to the historic Covered Bridge of Lewis County, Kentucky, near the West Virginia state line. The residential home is private property, and the Covered Bridge is a public protected historic site. 

When the same family friend who had discovered the Cabin Creek destination found the property was for sale, Cox and her husband came back around to it. They loved the property as their wedding destination and thought it would make a great renovation project. 

Their road to hell was paved with the great intention of refurbishing a severely degraded historic property. 

Chaos jumpstarts with restoration plans

The family was dropped into the chaos like being dunked into cold water. Vandalism and harassment, as well as other problems with the community, commenced soon after moving to the area. Cox’s husband sustained a traumatic brain injury in a crash while sitting at a traffic light outside a local Lowes. Witnesses of the scene had tried to alert the driver that he would hit someone. Regardless of their statements, the driver wasn’t tox screened or charged with a crime, presumably, because he was the relative of a local official. 

“The Troll Bridge” character assassination campaign 

The harassment campaign then made a countermove that had many of the characteristics of a high school cyberbullying ring. Community members launched a Facebook page that labeled Cox as the “troll” of the Covered Bridge. In addition to a frequent update on the activity of the “troll bridge,” which also included posting photos of the family without their consent, the community created an entire brand around their harassment campaign. This even included a troll avatar meant to represent Cox which was used as the logo for a local brand of t-shirts. 

Example of social media incidents.

The narrative began to circulate the shared claims that Cox was “running people off” from the bridge. Cox denies these claims, saying she allowed the defendants of her harassment case to visit the public bridge without bothering them when they were there legitimately. In one incident, Dianna Malone is documented photographing the bridge’s graffiti. She was not disturbed while she took these photographs. Cox stated that other people who came to visit the bridge earlier in her residency in the area were treated with respect and that she “exchanged pleasantries” with these visitors. 

With the creation of the Troll of the Cabin Creek Covered Bridge page, the locals engaged in harassment proceeded to bombard Cox with cyberbullying. Harassment campaigns were nearly incessant, and whole communities rallied to refute any legal claims Cox made about her property ownership. 

The character assassination was enforced by local officials backing the harassment groups. If a person ever stepped out of the lines and spoke in favor of the Cox family, these influential people would sabotage them. An example of this was in a comment thread in which Timmy Henderson stated he called the county judge-executive and was told Cox had all the legal rights to the property. This was immediately shot down by the Lewis County Judge Executive Todd Ruckel. 

Organized character assassination was underway that would eventually bleed over into the local press. 

First amendment sabotage 

In addition to creating the Troll of the Cabin Creek Covered Bridge Facebook page, the Lewis County press took their turn with character assassination. They published a piece refuting Cox’s claims and sought to silence them in the op-ed column of the Lewis County local newspaper. The op-ed was submitted by Shane Wallingford. Cox. Shane Wallingford is a close friend of the county judge-executive, Todd Ruckel. The harassment campaign confirmed that both Wallingford and Ruckel helped them to form the harassment campaign. 

The local paper’s Letter to the Editor that sought to discredit Cox.

In addition to using the local paper to continue their harassment, the community also frequently posted to their Facebook group, nicknamed the “Troll Patrol”, that the television news coverage of the incidents that exists is fake news.

Ruckel and Wallingford have been named in a First Amendment Rights Retaliation and conspiracy federal lawsuit with Terry Thomas, Amy Kennedy, Dianna, and Russell Malone. The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court by Cox attorney, Chris Wiest. 

The county’s land snatch and grab 

As the narrative supercharged, it rallied around the rumor that Cox did not legally own the land. The argument was based on a survey that was conducted in 2007 that was undated and unsigned disregarding the legal survey Cox had done in 2020.

The county attorney had previously closed the sale and stated the full ownership of the Cox property. Later, he changed the official assessment to suit the narrative. The county sought to deny land that was legally granted in the purchase. It was also at this time that community members traded parcels of the land with each other unlawfully, attempting to sell a portion within their group that did not legally belong to the seller, as per the 2020 survey. 

The harassment effort community contested that a portion of the residential property, from the middle of Cabin Creek to the Cabin Creek Road, was “the Hughes property.” They began to circulate old newspaper clippings in an attempt to prove this. The survey that the community cited was from 2007 and incorrect.

The county surveyor had not completed a promised new survey at the time of this report. 

“We don’t have anything against that colored fella,” 

The Covered Bridge is a public wedding destination. A local bride approached Cox to make arrangements for hosting her wedding at the property. The bride wanted the bridge to be the scene of the wedding ceremony. She asked Cox if she could have the bridge cleaned, to which Cox replied that the Covered Bridge Authority would have to conduct a property cleaning procedure, as the bridge is the only public property at the scene. 

The wedding itself attracted some unique problems. The wedding’s groom was an African American man. Cox became concerned that harassment and attempts to crash the wedding ceremony were racially motivated and might be directed at the groom and his guests. Harassment tactics targeting the wedding included locals riding by on loud ATVs, and various actions to cause a disturbance. The wedding, however, was not disrupted. The bride later stated the opinion that the locals were targeting Cox and not her ceremony, something that Cox believes may have also been a motive. 

When Cox confronted the harassers for their behavior at the wedding, their response was counterintuitive.

“We don’t have anything against that colored fella,” they said. Cox noted that this response was contrary to the denial of racism, citing the use of the pejorative term “colored” for the groom. 

Chemical controversy over the Covered Bridge

Before the wedding, the bride from the above couple requested that the Covered Bridge be cleaned. It had been littered with graffiti and trash. Cox told the bride that the bridge cleaning would have to be ordered by the proper channels, due to the bridge’s status as a historic site. 

Cox requested a chemical label from the bridge cleaning crew so that she could know what chemical was used near her farm. This is standard procedure. The cleaning crew refused to give her the label. The heated manner they refused to give it to Cox is likely due to other altercations with county employees. Cox had previously requested the county stop mowing on her private property, as she did not want community tax dollars being used to send unsolicited work crews to her private residence. The crews would arrive unannounced, would not seek permission to mow, and had treated the property as if it was community, public land. 

Cox pressed the cleaning crew to give her a chemical label or tell her what the chemical was, as it is standard procedure for using chemicals in proximity to humans and animals. One member of the cleaning crew took objection. “She’s going to find out it’s not toxic,” they said and proceeded to spray the chemical directly on Cox’s person. 

Below is time stamped footage of Cox being sprayed with chemicals. 


Cox was diagnosed by a physician with chemical exposure directly following this incident. The chemical’s side effects and treatment had to be determined by contacting the chemical manufacturer after observing symptoms, and finally determining what the chemical was. Cox’s physician prescribed her an inhaler for breathing problems that were the direct result of this incident. 

The community became enraged over the cleaning and reapplication of no-char the bridge underwent. They spun the narrative to create a scenario where it appeared Cox had ordered the bridge cleaning and that Cox had damaged the bridge. The bridge is scheduled for periodic cleaning and application of no-char. The cleaning request was placed through the proper channels. 

Allegations included the following, posted to Facebook pages.

“How can you hang lights on a covered bridge that you did not have permission from the bridge Authority of Kentucky you didn’t have their permission to pressure wash the bridge or hang wedding lights that you had the nail into the wood destruction of History and you complain about people throwing rocks in the creek they come in there and fishing I call people that throw rocks in the creek terrorist you’re the terrorist you’re destroying the bridge in the memories of those that you had washed their names you have turned Lewis County against you you are all alone you have made an enemy this is a message for Carrie D Cox you have destroyed that defaced history of Lewis County I can ask the Lewis County law enforcement to do anything because they’re idiots all they care about is our pockets and their power,” wrote a Facebook user on June 6. 

This came just the day after other members of the community had agreed to take their harassment to a more organized level. 

“If is many of you care about the history of Lewis County on here we need to quit talking about what’s right and what’s wrong and do something about it it is time to quit talking time to start doing something I need to push the County’s hand sure they will do something other than line their pockets with money,” wrote Troll of Cabin Creek Covered Bridge page on June 5. 

“Quit talking and do something about it” was translated into an effort to violently harass the family. 

Minor children threatened by gun violence 

When Cox broke her back, she had an African American friend and teenager visiting her in the private residence. During the harassment campaign, the minor teen was fired on by a truck parked on the disputed property. The girl was not injured in this incident. 

The crimes against the Cox family, friends, and guests are not being investigated as hate crimes at this time. 

In many instances since the Cox family reports that they have been fired upon by varying firearms in an attempt to scare them off the property. 

Harassment campaign resorts of animal sacrifice to prove their point

The Cox family are avid pet owners. They own many cats and dogs. Small kittens are bottle-fed, and all pets are dear members of the family. This was a vulnerability the harassment campaign has seized upon. Throughout the harassment campaign, Cox has found pets violently killed at random, in ways they would not be killed by wildlife. For example, Cox found one of her kittens was killed with a gunshot wound to the head, a .22 round fired at point-blank range. Cox discovered her dog dead, as well, killed on November 11. 

Image of the kitten’s point-blank fatal gunshot wound to the head.

 

Animal cruelty was not always behind the scenes. Once, to bully Cox, one of the harassers shot a cat point-blank in Cox’s presence after it had been tormented and run over by other harassers. 

  

The siege of 71 days 

The harassment campaign reached its climax with a siege of the property that lasted for 71 days. The grand architect of the harassment campaign, Dianna Malone, organized with her collaborators to host sit-ins at the property in lawn chairs. They would camp out along the edge of the property and just stair in the house’s direction for hours photographing and videotaping the family. It was alleged that Dianna Malone was called on by the county to harass the property owners continuously in siege-like circumstances. 

The siege included slurs and shouted explicit language, as well as mob gathering and gunshots. 

“Bizarre lengths” of the harassment campaign 

Cox’s attorney Chris Wiest has handled many high-profile criminal cases in his time practicing law. While he has seen many cases of organized sabotage and violence, Wiest noted that this case was unique in the sense that the campaign was disproportionately hostile, all facts of the argument considered. 

“What is unique about this case is the bizarre lengths these people have gone to,” said Wiest. 

The usual suspects and their usual assault 

The case escalated to the point where locals laid constant siege to the bridge. Cox was barred from leaving her house safely for 71 days, at one point. The harassers threatened her with death regularly. Wiest advised Cox to document this with video, to prove her allegations. Cox walked through the middle of her harassers and was assaulted by them in the process, as they attempted to break her camera, and threatened her with a worse beating. 

Cox filmed these assaults as well as the siege and arranged them in a supercut that was posted to YouTube under the subtitles “Hi neighbor.” 

The below footage is of the harassment of the Cox family.

Throughout the entire campaign, multiple photos and videos have been taken and recorded to prove Cox’s statements. 

Staunch denial 

The vehemence of what has been said about Carrie Cox and her family isn’t the only complete breakdown in criminal justice communication in the Cabin Creek case. It is also the constant and staunch denial of Lewis County, and the state government of Kentucky when confronted regarding the violent crimes and constant harassment made against the private property’s occupants. 

Republic Underground News reached out to Benjamin Harrison, the Lewis County Attorney. Harrison declined to comment. What was more, he declined to comment on behalf of the entire county. 

“I will not comment on this matter and I have directed all county officials and county employees not to comment on this matter,” said Harrison. 

This was not the first time the officials who were meant to process these incidents made a group effort to discredit criminal allegations against the harassment campaign. State attorney Sarah Cronan likewise maintained a staunch denial campaign. Cox approached Cronan to seek help. Instead of conducting a formal inquiry when Cox made an open-records request, Cronan proceeded to compile what was later analyzed as gossip statements and Facebook posts. She then proceeded to copy 12 cabinet members of the Kentucky government to an email sharing these stray bits of unreliable narrative, in an attempt to use these anecdotes as a way to discredit Cox. 

Cronan did not respond to Republic Underground’s request for comment. 

The Commonwealth of Kentucky declined to comment on pending litigation, and referred us to documents filed within the case.

Sabotage of advocates

The harassment campaign did not stop for the Cox family. Anyone who stood up against the corrupt behavior of the local government, and the lawless actions of the community, was silenced. Steve Hampton, the former Lewis County representative of the Covered Bridge Authority, was removed from his position for telling the state the truth about all that was happening in the area. 

Steve Hampton was not immediately available for comment. 

The actions of the locals and the government also drove away any normal social relationships the Cox family could have had. 

“People told us, ‘Carrie, we support what you’re doing but we can’t be involved in that,’. Nobody wanted to be around us. Like when our barn got damaged, no one wanted to come and help us. Nobody wants to be targeted by these people,” said Carrie Cox. 

A legacy of abuses and usurpations

The previous owners of the private property at Cabin Creek attest to the legacy of abuses and usurpations from the county and the criminal community of Lewis County. A picture packet was presented to the Fiscal Court in October 2019 that laid out this violent history in black and white. These court documents laid out distinctly the motive for Lewis County criminals to covet the old property. It was a party destination before its residential restoration by the Cox family. In the documents, the property’s previous owner, Mark Humphries, confessed that he had sold the property because he had grown weary of being shot at and harassed for occupying the residence. 

“We dealt with some drama, but not as much as you guys are dealing with. Dennis wasn’t out there often before you guys bought the place. However, I do remember thugs and others partying and throwing trash in the creek, etc., and breaking into the house stealing anything that wasn’t bolted down,” said Humphries, as he was quoted in the court documents. 

“My older brother lived there for two years to “keep” up with the place and the drama continued even then. After he left, it was abandoned and became the true train wreck you discovered when you looked at it the first time. Guess the bridge is a magnet for the ones that doesn’t care about preservation or much of anything else for that matter. God bless you guys for dealing with such idiocy.” 

The court records stated that Mark Humphries elder brother Dennis Humphries also attested to the fact that he was “drug through the mud” for “attempting to beat back the lawlessness” that assailed the property during the brothers’ tenure in the area. 

The records also cite an article printed in the 1980s in which a former resident Doris Jones, a.k.a Jockey Jones, had complained about vandalism and other criminal activity. “Jockey” Jones had been considered a “mean man” for not allowing trespassers to fish or to swim in his part of the creek, or to party on the part of the property that lawfully belonged to him. Jones was alleged to have “ran” people off of the property.  

The court documents likewise describe the exact nature of the Covered Bridge. The bridge is a 114-foot historic landmark of the county. It is the only portion of the property that is open to the public. Due to the lack of respect for rightful land boundaries, the private property owners have reconsidered their plans to restore the entire location to be a park-like environment. 

Postponing court dates 

Adding insult to injury, a court hearing requested by Cox’s legal defense to allow her to put up a fence to prevent the further trespass of harassers has been postponed. The county has deftly dodged the court date, in what appears to be a community effort to keep prolonging the legal battle to seek justice against those who held the private property under siege for 71 days. 

Mrs. Cox received an email on November 16 from the Carter County attorney and Special Prosecutor Brian Bayes detailing the county judge’s request to again postpone court hearings.

“The next court date was set for January but was moved back to March at the request of the Judge. This was done by agreed order and all defendants are warned to have no contact with you or the property at question,” wrote Bayes. 

Bayes is the prosecutor in Cox’s harassment case against Dianna Malone, Amanda Malone, William Kelly, Lisa Bradford, Devon Sweets, Caroline Wheeler, and Don Walker.

Awaiting the “ever-after” 

Cox has documented her experiences on the Cabin Creek Covered Bridge. She has pledged to publish a book on the events if she is to survive her ordeal.