Family members of a missing Upshur County man were escorted out of the Buckhannon City Council chambers Thursday after their demand for information in the case escalated into an often heated exchange.
The family of Luke Stout, who was reported missing in July, and other Stout family supporters attended the meeting to seek answers from Mayor Kenneth Davidson and the council, answers they said they had been denied elsewhere.
After initially refusing to leave, Elizabeth Stout, the mother of Luke Stout, was told she could be arrested if officers had to ask her to leave a third time. She was convinced by another person attending the meeting for the same purpose to exit the council chambers into the hall. The Stout family eventually left the building to speak with police outside of City Hall.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Friends and family of Luke Stout, a missing Upshur County man, attended a Buckhannon City Council meeting Thursday but were asked to leave for disrupting the event. Kenneth Stout, at left, was confronted by Pfc. Nick Caynor, right, of the Buckhannon City Police, who demanded that he exit City Hall.
"The police's story and your story don't match up," Davidson told the Stouts, which led them to question what the police had said to the mayor.
Several people alleged that officers had not taken statements from Luke Stout when he was in need. They told the audience and the city council that search parties were refused, saying there was only one search conducted for Luke Stout. They also wanted to know why the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not involved in the case.
"Where was God the day he walked into the police station and wanted to fill out a warrant for Chino, and the cops wouldn't take him seriously - answer me this," Elizabeth Stout said, adding that she has been hearing that Pfc. Nick Caynor of the Buckhannon City Police has made comments about her son. "I want that to get investigated. He ought to be dismissed now."
Elizabeth Stout also alleged that her son came home with a gun barrel mark in his forehead.
"And I tried calling the state (police), but they didn't want to step on the city's toes," she added. "Now look where my son is."
The Stouts wanted to know what was going to be done about the officers, with Elizabeth Stout demanding to know from Davidson "Who's their boss?"
"We're not going to try any kind of case here in this council meeting," Davidson said. "This is not the venue for it. If you want to speak, you have every right to speak. But I'm not going to answer a bunch of questions, because I don't know. I'm not the police."
Davidson said he would not discuss any conversations he may have had with police officers.
"I'm not going to address it," he said. "Hearsay is hearsay. That's not for you or me to judge, and I'm not going to get into it."
But Elizabeth Stout continued to press the issue, saying "you said the stories didn't match, so apparently you heard their story. If you heard, how come we can't hear?"
Kenneth Stout unleashed a profanity-laced tirade after being told by Davidson that their allotted time to address the council had ended, and police officers were dispatched to escort him from the room.
"I'm not going to argue with you," the mayor said. "I'm going to ask you all to leave. I want you to speak. I want you to make your case, make your point, but we're not going to get into a big argument here. We're going to have order in this meeting."
The emotional distress of the Stout family's situation did not go unheeded by the remaining members of the city council. Though no members of the Stout family were present at the time, Councilman Scott Preston offered his sympathy to the situation.
"Think about a momma bear protecting her cubs, the veracity that she will go to to protect her kids," Preston said. "Here's Ms. Stout out there, whose son's been missing for months. What little I know about the case is that it's being handled either by state or federal entities. While it may have started here in the city of Buckhannon, there's not much we can do. There's no answer we can give the Stout family from this government body that's going to say where is their son."