Targeted woman outraged

June 09, 1999

Debra CampherBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Debra Campher said her phone rang a lot Tuesday, with callers asking if the North Locust Street duplex she rents is the one being targeted by a group of residents in the neighborhood.

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A petition circulated by Carol Appenzellar and presented to Hagerstown City Council last week mentioned Campher's address specifically and alleged that the rental property had drawn trash, late night noise and traffic indicative of drug activity.

Campher, 37, of 334 N. Locust St., said she read a newspaper story about the petition Tuesday and was outraged when she realized she was reading about her home.


The story described a brick house on North Locust Street but did not list the street number or the name of the tenant.

Campher said she recognized the names of several people mentioned in the story and made the connection.

"It's not true," she said of the allegations.

Campher denied any involvement in drugs and said she was not the source of disruption and litter.

The petitioners asked city officials to assign more police to their neighborhood, more strictly enforce laws and housing codes and enact laws that would permit the city to periodically inspect rental properties.

Most of the 33 people who signed the petition, including Appenzellar, live on East North Avenue and all live within a couple of blocks of the Locust Street house.

Campher, who is a widow, said she believes she is being unfairly persecuted by her neighbors because she lives on a limited income and has children of mixed race.

She and her three children and her granddaughter have lived in the North Locust Street house since December.

Campher said she moved from Bethel Gardens to North Locust Street to escape the violence and drug activity plaguing the Jonathan Street area.

Unfortunately, she did not move far enough, she said.

Campher agreed that there are drug sales and prostitution going on in the neighborhood but said she has nothing to do with it.

In fact, she said, she has called Hagerstown City Police on several occasions to report suspicious activity on North Locust Street.

She has many of the same concerns about the neighborhood that the residents who signed the petition have, she said.

Trash consisting of boards, nails and glass found in the alley is not from her home, she said.

"Just because it's in the alley doesn't mean we put it there," she said.

Complaints that she willingly lets her female black Labrador, Queenie, roam the neighborhood are false, she said.

The dog is kept in the house or yard and has gotten loose occasionally when the gate has become unlocked.

A puppy pit bull she had been keeping temporarily for a friend has been gone for a month, she said.

Campher said she looks after her family and home as best she can. She would like to be able to landscape her home as some of her neighbors have but can not afford to do so, she said.

Campher said she is temporarily unemployed since being injured in a car accident. Prior to that she worked for Citicorp through a temporary agency, she said.

Campher said she supports her family on her late husband's Social Security payments and does not receive welfare.

What Campher said she does not understand is why Appenzellar and the others did not notify her directly of their concerns.

"Why not come to me in person and we'll talk about it?" she asked.

Appenzellar did not return phone calls Tuesday.

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