Tips on Papa Pilgrim pour in across state - Sex charges: Older children say they hold no bitterness toward him, but want him held accountable.

(Note: This is the family of seventeen that needed, sought and got much help a couple of years ago when their newly-purchased private property, known as an "inholding" within America's largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska -- became the target of the National Park Service, which was and apparently still is, bent on removing all inholders from all national parks and other federally controlled lands. The reader is asked to keep in mind that these charges are levied against just one member of the Hale aka Pilgrim family. The other sixteen are innocent and guileless. Now, more than ever before, your prayers are needed for them all. There are three articles below, with reference to others that may be accessed and read. These three appear to be the most accurate. I have spoken with neighbors of this family; they are also praying.)
September 28, 2005
By Tom Kizzia
Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage, Alaska

Four days after he disappeared from the settlement of McCarthy, the man known as Papa Pilgrim was still on the run Tuesday night from Alaska State Troopers seeking his arrest on sexual assault, kidnapping and incest charges.


Troopers were fielding tips from all over Alaska after putting out word that the Scripture-quoting patriarch had slipped away in a dark-blue camper van. Bob Hale, as he was known before coming to Alaska in 1998 and adopting the Pilgrim name, was charged last week by a Palmer grand jury with 30 felony counts involving one of his daughters.

Hale, 64, lived with his wife and 15 children on a remote homestead in the Wrangell Mountains, where he was engaged in a high-profile feud with the National Park Service.

On Tuesday, the family was scattered but safe. Five of Hale's older children, including the three oldest daughters, were staying with a family in Palmer where they have been taking shelter periodically since April. Three brothers are helping guide a hunt in the Wrangells and will join their siblings soon, said Jim Buckingham, the active-duty Fort Richardson Army officer who has opened his Palmer home to them.

The seven youngest children are still with their mother, Kurina Hale, at the family homestead 14 miles up a valley near McCarthy.

In a written statement issued Tuesday night, the older children said their eyes had been opened "to the blatant sin and deceit that their father had perpetrated over the years on the whole family." They said they had left the home they call Hillbilly Heaven to separate themselves from their father's control, saying it was the hardest thing they ever did.

"Through the support of the Buckingham family and the Lord working in our lives, our eyes were opened to the sin and deceit which had been occurring behind the scenes and which was hidden from my brothers and I," said the statement of Joseph Hale, 28, the oldest son. "When our sister came to us for help, we were united in our desire before God to take whatever action was necessary to protect her."

They said they hold no bitterness toward their father but want him held accountable. Living for much of the past three years on a mining site inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Hale espoused a strict and personal Christian doctrine that shielded his family from the outside world. They increasingly aggravated their neighbors in the little town of McCarthy, where they had set up an impromptu camp and horse stables on a road right of way. But the family drew support from others for their politics, their colorful wilderness lifestyle and their bluegrass-flavored musical performances.

The criminal charges broadly cover seven years, back to the family's arrival in Alaska in 1998. But many charges, including assaults, kidnapping and three sexual assaults, point to a single incident last January. Soon after, the older children left the homestead.

Hale himself left the homestead in mid-September, a week after the troopers investigation began.

McCarthy Air pilot Gary Green flew Hale out. Green said Tuesday that it was apparent Hale was leaving for a long time.

"I knew something serious had happened," he said.

Kurina Hale, who goes by the name Country Rose, was standing by the airstrip with cash to pay Green when he arrived, he said. Hale was approaching with the small children, pushing his gear in a wheelbarrow. They stuffed the Cessna 180 with his belongings, including a guitar and an old Sharps rifle. Then Hale hugged and kissed the children and the family held a brief prayer session, he said.

Later, Green said, he got a phone call from Country Rose. "She said to me, 'Do not bring him back up the creek,' " he said.

Green said he thought Hale drove to Anchorage that day. But last Thursday, Green said, he learned Hale was back in McCarthy, staying in a wall tent with a wood stove on the west side of the Kennicott River. The family bought 10 acres last winter at the end of the gravel road from Chitina so they could move their town camp.

Two troopers arrived Friday evening in a helicopter to arrest Hale and found the tent deserted, the stovepipe warm and Hale's four-wheeler gone. They searched on foot, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson, but by 8 p.m., with darkness and bad weather closing in, the helicopter had to return to Anchorage.

The next morning, a trooper car from the four-person Glennallen post started toward McCarthy. But Hale had evidently left McCarthy in his van during the night, Wilkinson said. The trooper was called back after the van was reported missing from its parking place in McCarthy, he said.

"Maybe we underestimated him," Wilkinson said.

He said he did not know why the troopers didn't send a car toward McCarthy Friday night when the helicopter left.

He said the helicopter trip to McCarthy had been delayed by a search and rescue mission, and the trooper sent out of Glennallen on Saturday was diverted by a motor vehicle crash and another arrest warrant.

On Tuesday, troopers searched Hale's camp in McCarthy looking for clues to his whereabouts, Wilkinson said. Meanwhile investigators were sifting through reports from Valdez, Fairbanks, Palmer, Eagle River, Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.

Airports and the highway border post south of Tok were notified to watch for Hale last Thursday night, after the indictment and arrest warrant were drawn up, Wilkinson said. But a general alert didn't go out until Monday, after the indictment was unsealed.



Statement from Pilgrim children and a family friend


A group of the Pilgrim children and the Jim Buckingham family of Palmer issued a written statement Tuesday afternoon.

Jim Buckingham described himself as an active duty Army officer stationed at Fort Richardson. He said his family is accommodating five of the older Hale children, and that these five plus the other three older children have used the Buckingham residence as their "home away from home" since April 2005.

Their remarks are printed verbatim:


• Jim Buckingham: "Our primary concern as a family is the safety and welfare of Country Rose and her 15 children during this very difficult period in their lives. We have been privileged to discover in Country Rose and her older children a genuine desire to do what is right before God and man ... a pursuit which has been greatly hindered by their father who demanded unwavering submission to his gravely misguided authority.

"Over the last six months of close contact with the older children, we have discovered young men and women that have purposed in their hearts to genuinely follow Jesus Christ, to amend the wrongs of the past and set an honorable and productive course for their lives in the days ahead. We, along with others who know them well, are committed to assisting the Pilgrim family in whatever way we can to achieve those noble goals."

• The older Hale children: "Currently, Country Rose and her seven younger children are residing at their homestead outside of McCarthy (Hillbilly Heaven) indefinitely.

"The older children (Elishaba, 29; Joseph, 28; Joshua, 25; David, 23; Moses, 20; Israel, 18; Jerusalem, 16; and Hosanna, 15) voluntarily left their home at Hillbilly Heaven in the Spring of 2005 in order to clearly separate themselves from the influence, misguided authority and control of their father 'Papa Pilgrim' as their eyes were opened to the blatant sin and deceit that their father had perpetrated over the years on the whole family.

"Three of the older brothers, Joshua, David and Moses, are currently finishing up a commitment they have doing big game guiding in the Wrangell Mountains.

"The five other older children (Elishaba, Joseph, Israel, Jerusalem and Hosanna) are currently residing at the Buckingham's home in Palmer."

• Joseph Hale: "Through the support of the Buckingham family and the Lord working in our lives, our eyes were opened to the sin and deceit which had been occurring behind the scenes and which was hidden from my brothers and I. When our sister came to us for help, we were united in our desire before God to take whatever action was necessary to protect her."

• The older Hale children: "We hold no bitterness, anger or resentment towards our Papa but simply desire that he be held accountable for his actions before God and man. We would pray that he would openly confess his sin before God and repent ... knowing that God is able and willing to both forgive his sin and save his soul. This is the hardest thing we have ever had to do, but we want to be clear about our desire to separate ourselves from evil ... which required us to physically separate from Papa. The requirement that we count the cost of following Christ has required that we be obedient to the Scripture which says, 'He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.' Matthew 10:37.

"We are so thankful to have the love and complete support of our Mama in this very difficult time. We trust her explicitly and know that she would lay her life down for us. We also are grateful to have the love and support of the Buckingham family. They have truly been a 'father to the fatherless' during our time of real need and provided us with daily love and counsel. Our lives are filled with joy and hope of a new life before us."

Copyright 2005, Anchorage Daily News.
Fugitive may need medical attention
September 27, 2005
By Dan Fiorucci and Angela Unruh
Anchorage, Alaska - Police and state troopers continue to search for Robert Hale, the man known publicly as Papa Pilgrim  Hale knows the outdoors, and in Alaska that means he could be almost anywhere. But authorities are optimistic they'll cross paths with Hale at some point.
According to neighbors who live in McCarthy, Hale is diabetic and requires insulin injections. So despite his competence in the outdoors, he will likely have to intersect with civilization at some point, either to get syringes or medicine.
“And we're very hopeful that he will be found soon,” said Richard Payne, Palmer assistant district attorney. 
Tonight, law enforcement officials are saying they are confident that they will catch up with Hale.
Not only have they notified immigration officers at the Alaska-Canadian border, but they also are getting cooperation from the public. Lots of tips are being called in from people who think they've seen Papa Pilgrim, who after all has a very distinct appearance. But Anchorage police are warning tonight that Hale might be trying to change his appearance. 
“This person has a very long beard. He's quite distinguished but may have shaved that so the physical description could change based on what he may have done to hide his identity,” said Anita Shell, Anchorage Police Department. 
It is known that Hale may be driving a Dodge camper van which is navy blue. The plate number on Hale’s van is EPN 405, though it's not unheard of for fugitives to change license plates while on the run.
Related articles:
Papa pilgrim faces multiple charges (Monday, September 26, 2005)
Robert Hale, who gained attention during a land dispute with the National Park Service near McCarthy, is facing 30 felony charges ranging from sexual assault to incest. State troopers say Hale is now considered a fugitive and is believed to be driving a Dodge camper van.
On family Web site, Papa Pilgrim says he obeys God’s will (Tuesday, September 27, 2005)
From Anchorage to Alaska's borders, law enforcement officials are scouring every square inch of our state for Robert Hale, or Papa Pilgrim. A look on the family’s Web site gives some insight into the family, but in light of the serious charges Hale is now facing, there's one part of the site that is particularly chilling.
Copyright 2005,



'Papa Pilgrim' charged with sex assault - Troopers looking for Robert Hale, 64


Anchorage, Alaska - The patriarch of a family that has a running feud with the National Park Service over access to their property inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park has been charged with numerous counts of sexual assault and incest.


Robert Allen Hale, 64, who goes by the name of Papa Pilgrim, was indicted Thursday by a state grand jury in Palmer on 30 felony counts, including 10 counts of sexual assault, one count of kidnapping, eight counts of incest, eight counts of coercion, and three counts of assault, Alaska State Troopers said.

The family includes 15 children but the indictment lists just one victim.

Hale remained at large Monday. "He could be anywhere," said Alaska States Troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

Hale's wife, Country Rose Hale, said family members cooperated in the investigation.

"We're just trying to do everything we can to support them," she told The Associated Press on Monday.

Troopers said the alleged crimes covered eight years, but she declined to confirm the length of the investigation or her breadth of knowledge of the alleged crimes.

"Those are the kind of questions I don't want to answer right now," she said, and instead asked for people's prayers on behalf of the family.

"We're sorry. We just appreciate the prayers of many thousands of people out there that could help us get through all this," she said. "God is on the throne and he's going to forgive Papa for the things he's done wrong."

Hale was not at the family's home last week, both she and troopers said.

Wilkinson said Hale had been staying in a 12-by-20 tent at McCarthy that contained a stove and a battery telephone. A supply tent and a bath tent also were on the property.

The tents were in a wooded area and could not be seen from the air, Wilkinson said.

Troopers believe Hale heard the helicopter when it arrived early Friday night and left on a four-wheeler. After troopers departed, Hale apparently returned and drove off in a van.

There would be no way for Hale to reach the homestead because rivers on the road are swollen and impassible, Wilkinson said.

Troopers said Hale drove off in a 1990 navy blue Dodge Ramcharger camper van with Alaska license plates EPN 405.

Hale was described as white, 5-foot-11-inches tall, 195 pounds, with gray hair and beard, and hazel eyes.

Troopers started their investigation after troopers received information over Labor Day weekend, and is separate from the civil dispute with the Park Service. No information about the alleged victim will be released, troopers said.

Hale, his wife and 15 children bought a 410-acre parcel within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in spring 2002. The family claimed to be deeply religious and wanted to live off the land.

The dispute with the Park Service involves access to their property, which lies inside the park about 14 miles from McCarthy. The old mining town with about 50 residents is inside the 13.2 million-acre national park.

The Pilgrims moved into an old miner's house on the property but the building burned in April 2003. The Pilgrims wanted to use the mining road to bring in heavy supplies from McCarthy and winterize another building.

The Park Service closed the road to motorized vehicles after the Hales used a bulldozer to push snow and ice from the mountain road without a permit. The family sued the Park Service for the road closure, which left them only able to access their home by horse or airplane.

Hale accused the Park Service of trying to starve his family out. Volunteer pilots came to their assistance, flying in supplies to a small airstrip on the property.

District Court Judge Ralph Beistline in November 2003 denied the Hale family's motion for a temporary restraining order, saying the Park Service was justified in wanting to assess the environmental impact of reopening the road.

The lower court ruled the Park Service could require a permit before the family could use its bulldozer on the road, and the Hales appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The three-judge panel has yet to rule.

Robert Allen Hale, also known as Papa Pilgrim

Copyright 2005, Anchorage Daily News.

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