Two years later, victims still recovering from Whittle Construction closure
Jackson County residents are still recovering after claiming they were scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars when Whittle Construction closed up shop two years ago.
After the company went belly up, affected families were left with unfinished homes and a massive financial burden.
"It was a nightmare," said Richard Murdock, who found out in early 2017 that Whittle Construction was abandoning his partly finished home. Murdock had already sunk more than $340,000 into the build - money he hasn't seen since.
"I asked him [President of Whittle], 'Where did all the money go?' And he said, 'Overhead and expenses," said Murdock. "That was the sum of his explanation."
After Whittle bailed, things got even worse for Murdock and Patricia Hoefer, his partner for 30 years. The two found the subcontractors who had provided supplies for construction had never been paid. Several of them placed liens on their home.
According to Murdock, one of those unpaid bills was for $27,000 worth of materials.
"Even though we gave him the money, it never got paid to the people owed for what they did," he said.
Murdock wound up footing that bill, among others - including costs to make the home livable. Murdock said Whittle left without installing insulation under the floors, toilets, flooring, and doors.
He said the home's septic system, lights, heating, air conditioning, water heater and other systems were not functioning. While the home was partially done when Whittle closed, Murdock believes that between finishing construction and paying liens, he still wound up losing about $300,000.
"I think he targeted a lot of elderly people to get the money from them," said Hoefer.
To help off-set costs, Murdock completed some handy work around the house himself. But there's still items on his to-do list, including sanding and staining his front door and completing a metal fence for his back patio.
However, the community was quick to step in to help after Whittle went under. Murdock said they had multiple crews, including those from Home Depot, David Lee Construction and Elite Construction, complete free labor in the home.
Murdock said he is not expecting to see a dime of the money he lost, partly because he can't afford an attorney after paying for Whittle's mistakes. But other victims are taking legal action.
There were at least six cases filed against Karic Roberge, the former President of Whittle Construction, as of Tuesday. Those suits were filed by a combination of homeowners, subcontractors, and financial institutions. All of those cases have been put on hold because Roberge filed for bankruptcy.