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Disabled Colorado Veteran now homeless after being evicted, did not know he needed to pay property taxes

David Purnell, a disabled Air Force Veteran, evicted from his home.
Posted at 9:48 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 09:02:35-04

FREMONT COUNTY — David Purnell, a disabled Air Force Veteran, finds himself homeless and in the middle of a battle to get his property back.

Purnell failed to pay his property taxes for three years. The 54-year-old man is cognitively impaired after being shot in the head while serving in the military. He says he did not know he was supposed to pay the property taxes after he paid off his VA loan, because the property taxes were included in the loan for the roughly 30 years prior. Despite notices from the Fremont County Treasurer's Office, Purnell says he never understood what was happening.

Records show an investment company purchased Purnell's home through a treasurers deed on January 27, forcing the Fremont County Sheriff's Office to evict him.

When a Real Estate Agent in Fremont County, Chris Donley, found out about the Veteran's situation, she felt compelled to help him. She knew that a Colorado law allows a nine-year grace period for people with disabilities to pay back what is owed on their property taxes.

"When something is so patently, so blatantly wrong, as a United States American veteran who got shot in the head and left semi-paralyzed, to have his home taken away from him, I couldn't just sit by and do nothing."

Donley has hired a Real Estate Attorney, Jordan May, to represent Purnell's case in hopes of getting him his home back.

"In my view, the statute was made exactly for this case. I mean, Mr. Purnell is someone that that statute is designed to protect, so he should be afforded to redeem his property and move back in... He should not have been evicted," said May.

The company that bought Purnell's filed for a Quiet Title, which Purnell's lawyer says is a "formality" in cases like this to essentially cut off the rights of property owners who might file for redemption, just as Purnell is doing.

News5 has made multiple attempts to contact the company that purchased Purnell's property, including contacting the person listed as the company's owner, contacting the company's lawyer, and contacting someone who has purchased property from the company; no one was willing to provide a name or contact information affiliated with the company.

The Fremont County Treasurer says Purnell never came to the office to check about his notices and she never knew until after he was evicted that Purnell was a disabeled veteran. She says if she had known the circumstances, she might have been able to get Purnell the veteran services he needs.

Purnell's lawyer says the case is now up to a judge, but he is not aware of when the case will be presented in court.
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