Carteret Co. Brothers Remain Jailed 10 Months Refusing To Give Up "Family Land"

By: April Davis/ Kelsie Smith
By: April Davis/ Kelsie Smith

A couple of brothers in Carteret County have been in jail almost a year because they refuse to sign a court order to demolish their houses and abandon the place they've called home. They remain in jail after a judge refused to hear the case Monday.

Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels are from Merrimon in Carteret County. They're fighting for 13 acres off Sliver Dollar Road along Adams Creek. The property rights have been in question since the 1980s.

Back in 1911, Elijah Reels bought 65 acres, including the 13 acres in question. In 1944 Elijah lost the property but his son Mitchell Reels was able to buy it. Mitchell Reels died without a will and after his death in 1976 a judgment stated the land would go to his family heirs. The judge didn't include Mitchell's brother Shedrick Reels who would later use the Torrens law to become owner of the 13 acres along the waterfront. He sold the land in 1986. Adams Creek Associates bought it, but Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels never left saying the property was never legally Shedrick Reels' to sell. They were arrested in March of last year and have been in the Carteret County Jail ever since.

We spoke with Adams Creek Associates Attorney Lamar Armstrong Tuesday.
"My client Adams Creek Associates bought this property in 1986. When you buy a title that has been torrenized you would think you got something under about as good of ownership that you can have under North Carolina Law. Well just the contrary has occurred in reality because the Reels family has refused to comply," said Armstrong.

"I'm trying to figure out how can one judge can give it to you and another judge take it back if it's already been ordered. The 1976 judgment should stand," said the niece of the jailed men Kim Duhon.

The case was scheduled to be heard in Craven County Court Monday, but after reviewing the case the judge chose not to hear it. The Reels family says they will continue to fight for the land they believe is rightfully theirs.

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  • by jt on Feb 22, 2012 at 05:40 AM
    I think the issue that has the appeal to most of the folks that have just heard of this case, is the part about how the seller got title to the land. If the news story is accurate, an earlier judgement excluded the eventual seller. If that is true, then that's the real story, and was there any complicity within the 'legal' system. As far as their issue being with that seller, how would they get relief now......I know, ....wait for it.....hire another attorney and pursue it in the court(s).....
  • by jb Location: morehead on Feb 20, 2012 at 11:13 AM
    people should get the facts before making rash, uninformed comments. i keep informed on land cases and this case has been in the courts for many years, been heard many times, reviewed by multiple attorneys and judges and has been ruled in favor of the current land owner group every time, who made a legal purchase of the land in the 80's and have been paying the taxes. the two are still in jail because they have been on the land illegally and have run out of tricks to try with the courts. the current judge finally had enough. sounds like their beef should be with Shedrick (who sold the property legally according to the courts).instead they seem to be trying to blame the current land owner. there's always two sides to the story and those that buy land should be protected too.
  • by jt moore Location: atlantic beach on Feb 20, 2012 at 05:19 AM
    so, these two are in jail, for 10 months now, standing up for what they believe to be true, a judge that has purview over the case won't let it go to trial(apparently?). Meanwhile, on a daily basis, real convicted criminals are getting 'time served', 'probation', pleading to a lesser charge, suspended sentencing....
  • by William Location: fayetteville on Feb 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
    It same like the big boys are trying to steal the land from the reels family. If the Reeles family were paying taxes and the compay were paying taxes on the same land then Carteret county is guilty of stealing from both parties. The Judge is using his power to try to make the reels brothers sign over the land. If the Judge was a just man he would let a jury hear the case.Hang in there men and don't let the judge or any one else take your land.
  • by freemyuncles Location: landofthefree on Feb 3, 2012 at 04:00 AM
    It appears to me that someone doesnt want there shady dealings exsposed.If there is really nothing to hide ,why not hear th case again and prove that the said property belongs too the developers , (with a jury of cource), since the family has continued to say that they have never been heard !!!!
  • by Shine Location: NE NC on Feb 2, 2012 at 04:58 AM
    Sounds like the Randy Partin/Roanoke Rapids/ whatever they call it this week deal...... venture.
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Feb 1, 2012 at 01:04 PM
    I read some key segments here; "Shedrick Reel was cut out of a Will", it would be helpful to know why. Somehow, he still laid claim to 13 of the original 65 acres. Is this documented in public records at the courthouse? He later sold the land, which means he must have cleared a profit from the sale, signed a contract with Adams Creek Assoc.'s. I'm no attorney but this is how I see it; Adams Creek Assoc.'s. claim they bought the land from Mr. Reels. If he had the deed and title, and exchanged those with Adams Creek Assoc.'s., then they own the property. If Mr. Reels DID NOT exchange a legal deed and title with Adams Creek Assoc.'s., then there is a question about the legality of that sale. Did Mr. Reels have the legal right to sell the property? What legal documents does Adams Creek Assoc.'s. have to prove it? It would be interesting to find the original Will & Deed involved with this 65 acre tract to learn WHO did get the land, and who didn't. A really great attorney would love to take this on.
  • by Shine Location: NE NC on Feb 1, 2012 at 12:45 PM
    This is going nowhere. Let them stay where thay are.
  • by Donna on Feb 1, 2012 at 12:35 PM
    Adverse possession is a nasty loop in the law. It basically states that if you use someone else' property as your own for a period of time without paying for that use with the knowledge of the deeded owners, you can file for adverse possession after a certain period of time. I think it's something like 7 years. And it is perfectly legal. That law, last time I checked, was still on the books.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM
    "Torrenizing" land is an easy way to steal land. Attorneys have been doing it all over the country for years for certain timber/lumber/paper companies. It has made some families multi-millionaires/ billionaires and the most successful theives in the history of the world. It can be legalized thievery. Just find some landholding poor uneducated folk or people that don't read the legal notices in the paper. Don't read the legal notice and lose your home when you don't answer the Torrens Petition.
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