Oak Creek Becky Wisecup gave a simple reaction to appearances in the news lately of her former neighbor, Barbara Blackmore.
“Not shocking,” Wisecup said Thursday, standing in her driveway while a pit bull, Andrei, peered out a window of her house.
“We’re their neighbors. We see what goes on.”
Wisecup lives with her husband and two young daughters at 426 Bell Ave., on a hill on the southern edge of Oak Creek. Across a thin slice of dirt road is 424 Bell Ave., a small house with plastic across several windows and a deteriorating exterior. Part-time Steamboat Springs resident Brooks Kellogg, 72, owns that house. It’s the former home of Blackmore, a 47-year-old Clifton woman who has told the FBI she used to be Kellogg’s mistress.
“She was nice,” Wisecup said about Blackmore. “She seemed a little out there, I guess.”
Wisecup said some situations at the house — “people in and out, different vehicles on a weekly basis” — led her to speculate about the activity there.
“We kind of distanced ourselves,” Wisecup said. “We didn’t want to be involved with whatever was going on.”
Blackmore is mentioned throughout an FBI affidavit related to Kellogg’s Oct. 19 arrest at Denver International Airport, on suspicion of trying to pay for the killing of Stephen Bunyard. Bunyard is a Florida man who settled for $2.5 million in a lawsuit against business entities owned by Kellogg and a Steamboat Springs business partner, Richard Friedman. Friedman has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The affidavit alleges that Blackmore and Kellogg discussed and planned a contract killing. Blackmore called the Florida man’s lawyer, Reed Morris, of Steamboat Springs, who notified authorities. Kellogg was arrested after authorities said he tried to pay an undercover FBI agent $2,000 for expenses related to the killing.
Kellogg, from Chicago, is the managing member of Chadwick Real Estate Group in Steamboat Springs and owns the Old Pilot Building at 1041 Lincoln Ave.
Friedman is managing director of Chadwick Real Estate Group. Friedman has denied having any knowledge of the circumstances that led to Kellogg’s arrest. Testimony given Monday in U.S. District Court supported Friedman’s statements.
For about 16 months, according to county records, Friedman owned Kellogg’s Bell Avenue house in Oak Creek.
“We bought it for employee housing, and (employees) used it for some time,” Friedman said, referring to Texas contractors hired to construct townhomes marketed as Chadwick Estate Villas, near the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
“I don’t believe the intent was actually to buy this house for Barbara Blackmore,” Friedman said.
Blackmore responded to a Steamboat Pilot & Today e-mail Thursday evening.
“I am not what the press has made me out to be. … I think it is only right that if Brooks got the chance to have his reputation defended, that I also get the chance,” she said.
Yampa resident Katherine Cain owned the Oak Creek house from July 2000 to January 2008, according to Routt County records. Cain said Thursday that she used the house as a rental property and sold it in January 2008 to Kellogg, for $129,000.
“I liked him — we got along fine,” Cain said about Kellogg. “He was a very nice man.”
Regarding his arrest, Cain said: “I was surprised and very sorry to hear that it had all occurred.”
The FBI affidavit, filed Oct. 20, indicates that Kellogg might have considered burning down the Oak Creek house.
“Blackmore alleged that several months ago Brooks Kellogg approached her to find someone to commit an arson for insurance: to burn down a house which Brooks Kellogg owned and which Barbara Blackmore advised was given to her,” the affidavit states.
Monday in U.S. District Court in Denver, defense attorney Larry Pozner, questioning Blackmore’s credibility, said Kellogg bought her a trailer in Clifton after an “arson threat” related to the house in Oak Creek.
Friedman said Thursday that he’s never been to the Oak Creek house.
He said Kellogg went to a bank to finance its purchase, but when Kellogg “didn’t have additional credit,” Friedman said, Kellogg asked Friedman to put his name on the deed.
Kellogg and his wife, Gail Kellogg, own a home overlooking Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club. County records don’t list a sale price for that home but state a 2010 actual value of more than $2.8 million, including the land. The home, built in 1997, has more than 6,700 square feet of living area, 11 rooms and a three-car garage, according to county records.
The four-room Oak Creek house dates to 1924 and has a crumbling chimney and a 2010 actual value of $157,320.
Friedman said after the Texas workers stopped using the house, “that was when (Kellogg) mentioned he had someone he wanted to put in it.”
At that point, Friedman said, he asked Kellogg to place the house in his own name because the house no longer was being used for Chadwick purposes.
“I gave him a deed … and it ended up in his name,” Friedman said.
That transaction occurred in June 2009.
The Bell Avenue house has a small deck that Wisecup said once supported a hot tub.
“Lots of hot tub parties — oftentimes after the bar would close,” Wisecup said. “It was kind of annoying.”
Blackmore would turn down music when asked, Wisecup said. Wisecup added that Blackmore said she was “terminally ill” and had a large extended family.
On Main Street in Oak Creek, Elk’s Tavern bartender Wendy Fletcher also said Blackmore talked about a terminal illness, possibly lung-related. Fletcher said she could visibly tell when Blackmore was struggling with her health.
“From what I know … she’s been to the hospital a lot of times,” Fletcher said. “But she was stubborn — she wouldn’t go until she couldn’t take it anymore.
“The Barbara I know (is a) good-hearted person. Do anything for anybody. The main thing in her life … was her kids.”
Fletcher said Blackmore has several children, the youngest of whom, she said, is a son in his late teens. Fletcher said Blackmore would talk about Kellogg now and then.
“She mentioned him,” Fletcher said, “but kind of like a business partner.”
Kellogg is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Denver at 10:30 a.m. today, for arraignment in the courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in Denver issued a two-count indictment for Kellogg. The indictment has potential penalties totaling as much as $500,000 in fines and as many as 30 years in prison. An indictment is a formal accusation of a crime.
According to the indictment, Kellogg is charged with one count of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire and one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
Kellogg remains in custody in a federal detention center in Englewood. Mix ruled Monday that Kellogg would be held without bail.