COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a case of vandalism against an 82-year-old Hayden woman that involves a garbage bag full of feces, as reported by KREM 2 news partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press.
The brown smear on Gloria Wurm’s lawn still gave off the scent of manure on Wednesday morning outside her Sally Street home. The Hayden resident for the last 17 years said the motives behind the smear were as plain as day.
“This is a hate crime,” she said.
Wurm said she looked outside her window Tuesday morning to see a black outdoor garbage bag sitting in the middle of her lawn, a curiosity she couldn’t understand.
“I thought, ‘Well, maybe the yard guy had come,’” she said. “But he always takes the garbage with him when he leaves, so maybe he was going to come back and do more.”
Wurm said she went out in her pajamas that morning to discover the bag was not, in fact, full of lawn clippings. Rather, someone had left a Hefty Bag-sized pile of feces on her front yard. That bag had been dumped open, with maggot-infested spillage seeping out onto the grass.
“I’ve lived in this house for 17 years, and I never had a problem with nothing,” she said.
Wurm labeled the incident a hate crime because of what she calls a telling symptom of the problems plaguing North Idaho. The manure was only half of the issue: Someone had also ripped down a flag she kept on her front porch in support of President Joe Biden.
“You can’t even talk with civility to anyone anymore,” she said. “People are so hostile now.”
Wurm said Tuesday’s incident wasn’t the first time her freedom of expression was confronted. She also referenced July 1, Canada Day, when the Ontario-born American resident for the past 54 years decided to display the Canadian flag. Her celebration of her native country was quickly dashed, she said, when neighbors yelled at her, telling her she should only fly American flags.
“This country has become so divisive,” Wurm said. “I don’t understand it.”
As for Tuesday’s incident, she enlisted the help of a friend from Spokane Valley to help her load the feces in his truck and haul it to the dump, but not before contacting the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office. A case file has been started, and public information officer Ryan Higgins said KCSO is investigating.
Mayor Steve Griffitts said he was repulsed by the incident, adding that the crime has no place in the community.
“What she went through, no one — certainly no 82-year-old — should have to go through what she went through,” Griffitts said. “Our job is to take care of her as a community. This is the United States of America. This was an unacceptable act that will cause long-term ramifications.”
By noon Wednesday, the smell on Wurm’s lawn had dried up. She said the incident resonates with her as a blatant violation of her rights, both as a property owner and as an American.
“People need to know this is happening in our community,” she said. “People need to know what the hell is going on around here.”
The Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.