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Relatives of Once-Missing Girl Face Eviction

Times Staff Writer

Huntington West Apartment managers said Sunday that they will seek the help of health and police officers today in ousting the ailing parents and the daughter of Leroy Freeman, arrested Saturday on suspicion of kidnaping his 13-year-old granddaughter.

The eviction attempt is the latest in a bizarre string of events stretching back over 6 years. Freeman is suspected of taking his granddaughter, Charity Freeman, away from his daughter in Toledo, Ohio, in 1982 and traveling with her to various locations across the Southwest.

The pair eventually wound up in Huntington Beach, living in the two-bedroom apartment with Leroy Freeman’s invalid parents and his daughter, Julie Freeman, who said she has changed her name to Nicole Alden.

FBI agents were tipped off to their whereabouts when a car purchased by a Julie Freeman was repossessed in Huntington Beach.

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Saturday, after arresting Leroy Freeman, authorities returned Charity to Toledo, where she entered a hospital for observation. Authorities at Medical College of Ohio Hospital said that Charity was to spend Sunday night at the hospital and that she is in good mental and physical condition. She is scheduled for an emergency custody hearing today.

Leroy Freeman, still in Orange County Jail, is scheduled to appear in Orange County Municipal Court on Tuesday.

Debbie Bates, resident manager of the Huntington Beach apartments where the five relatives lived for several months, said she intends to evict the family today because of the case’s notoriety and because of suspicions that the apartment violates health codes.

“The people will not let us in there and we don’t want to force ourselves in,” Bates said. “It smells awful.”

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But Alden denied that there is any problem inside the apartment and said that the only odor coming from the unit is a cat litter box that needs to be cleaned.

Alden said that since the incident has been publicized, she is afraid to go outside. The seemingly constant knocking on the door from media and apartment managers has upset her grandfather, 88, and grandmother, 85, she said. “I’m afraid to leave the house. I can’t leave them alone.”

Alden disputed published rumors that Leroy Freeman led a satanic cult, saying that her father is a Methodist minister who attended church regularly in Orange County.

She said he had raised his granddaughter, Charity Freeman, since infancy and abducted her in frustration after a custody battle with her mother in which he was allowed to visit the child one day a week.

Leroy Freeman is also suspected of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, authorities said.

Alden said that Charity was given the option of calling home during the 6 years and declined to call.

During those 6 years, Leroy Freeman taught Charity at home with school books and a home computer, Alden said. She said he also fed and bathed his parents.

“He did all of it. Now I don’t know what to do. It’s a big burden. It’s a lot of work,” she said.

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