Hermit ‘River Dave’, 81, says he’s ‘happier than billionaires in his first statement since his release from jail for squatting on a private wooded property 27 years in a shack that mysteriously burnt to the ground.
‘It’s all physical stuff,’ David Lidstone told NBC10 Boston on Thursday after he was released from jail for trespassing.
‘It’s what you have in friends that counts. These multimillionaires and billionaires – I’m happier than they are,’ he said.
The cabin was located in New Hampshire along the Muchyedo Bank in Merrimack County in between the Merrimack River and Interstate 93.
It had solar panels but no other electricity. He has grown his own food, cut his own firewood, and tended to his pets and chickens.
‘River Dave’ Lidstone said he’s happier than billionaires with his bare minimum possessions and small wood cabin in the woods of New Hampshire
‘River Dave’ has become a local folk hero and is beloved by the community
The humble cabin in a wooded area of New Hampshire where Dave ‘River Dave’ Lidstone lived for 27 years was mysteriously burned down, and he was arrested for trespassing in July
This was ‘River Dave’s’ home before it burned down
Despite his decades-long stay in the wooded area, the eccentric local folk hero has suddenly been thrust into a land dispute with Leonard Giles, 86, who owns the property of River Dave’s makeshift home and wanted him removed.
Giles’s attorney Lisa Snow Wade said there are no discussions around allowing Lidstone to remain on the property because of liability concerns for having someone living in an illegal structure on the property.
On July 15, he was arrested for trespassing and told a judge during Wednesday’s court appearance that he had no desire to comply with the order to leave the cabin and prefers to be in jail.
‘You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em,’ Lidstone told a judge during the court appearance. I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.’
But with the cabin reduced to ashes, the judge released Lidstone, saying there was no way he could return to the property.
Now the question becomes, where will River Dave live? Close friends like Jodie Gedeon, who met Lidstone kayaking about 20 years ago and considers him family, and many other supporters are helping him rebuild his life and answer that question.
They set up a GoFundMe to raise money. Other supporters and friends have offered him a place to stay.
Close friends like Jodie Gedeon (right), who met Lidstone kayaking about 20 years ago and considers him family, and many other supporters are helping him rebuild his life
This is the location of Lidstone’s home in New Hampshire
Rod Webber posted a video of Facebook video that shows Lidstone’s humble livelihood reduced to soot and ashes, with parts of the home still smoldering.
He picked up food that he planted that appears to have been uprooted.
The fire is under investigation, but some supporters told Webber that they believe the fire was purposefully set.
A first cousin of Lidstone, Horace Clark of Milton, Vermont, said his cousin should be be allowed to remain on the property, which is just a few miles away from Interstate 93.
The 73-acre property is hidden by trees and has been used for timber harvests. It was owned by same family since 1963, and there are no plans at this time to develop it.
‘Leave the guy alone. He’s not harming anybody,’ Clark said. ‘If he wasn´t a problem in 27 years, he is not going to be a problem now.’
‘You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em,’ Lidstone told a judge during the court appearance. I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir’
He has another court appearance scheduled for next week.
DailyMail.com reached out to Gedeon and the creator of the GoFundMe page.