MERRIAM, Kan. -- Friends of a 70-year-old Merriam man are banding together to save his belongings. They were being thrown in a dumpster while he was in the hospital. As the friends tell FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar, they worry that the man is being taken advantage of by a former pastor who's now behind bars.
Piece by piece, Louis Laugeson’s friends are trying to save what's left of his life.
“Nobody should have this done to them at all,” Jennifer Gould said.
Gould is talking about the dumpster, which now contains most of what was once in a Merriam home belonging to Laugeson. He’s been staying at a VA nursing facility since July while he recuperates from physical and mental health issues.
“He's a Vietnam Veteran who's disabled and even though he has a traumatic brain injury he is very bright and charming man,” Pat Lamb said.
Friends said Laugeson had hoped to return to his home after he's released next week. But he had no idea nearly all his belongings were being thrown away.
“If he came home and seen this, it would do more damage than before. I fear it would just do him in,” Gould said.
Mixed in with much of Laugeson's furniture are personal mementos, including his marching band uniform from the University of Kansas, which he'd held on to since he graduated in 1964.
His friends say before Laugeson went into the hospital he granted power of attorney to a man named Robert Krahl. However, Krahl, a former minister, is now behind bars and charged with sexually molesting a child. So the ex-minister's attorney James Barker has been dealing with Laugeson's affairs, something both Laugeson and his friends acknowledge.
“Because the preacher is incarcerated the lawyer representing him is acting on his behalf,” Lamb said.
FOX 4 Problem Solvers made multiple attempts to find Barker. When we couldn't reach him by phone, we paid a visit to the law office he had listed on Johnson County court records, it turned out to be a UPS store where he keeps a PO Box.
We did, however, reach Mr. Laugeson. The VA hospital wouldn't let us visit him, so we talked to him by phone .
“I didn't know they were taking my good stuff out. I thought they were just taking trash,” he said.
Laugeson told us that the ex- minister and attorney Barker wanted him to sell the home.
“They kept telling me to do that because I was so old,” he said. “I wanted to stay there until I couldn't take care of it no more.
That's what these folks want as well. Just this week Laugeson signed papers ordering Barker to cease and desist any activity at Laugeson's home. Laugeson also transferred power of attorney to Gould, a friend who says all she wants to do is help the vet stay in the home he loves.