Days after a Wake County grand jury indicted Stephen Owen Schrader Jr. on charges of abusing his 74-year-old mother and stealing money from her, the sheriff’s office said it is actively searching for her and appealed to the public for help.
Carolyn Sue Fox, Schrader’s mother, has not been seen since summer, as far as the sheriff’s office can tell. Investigators are running down every lead they get, Wake Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Thursday. They hope to get more.
“It may be the piece of the puzzle that we need,” Harrison said in asking anyone who thinks they have any information on Fox’s whereabouts to call the sheriff’s office at 919-856-6911.
“It’s still an active investigation,” Harrison said.
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Sheriff’s investigators and members of the N.C. K9 Emergency Response Team were on Fox’s property at 6524 Turnipseed Road, southwest of Wendell near the Wake County line, using search dogs to scan the area Thursday morning.
On Oct. 12, investigators arrested Schrader, who lives at 6520 Turnipseed Road. He has been held since then in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Officials began trying to find Fox on Oct. 3 after a friend of hers called authorities because she had not been seen recently. They went to Fox’s home on the afternoon of Oct. 3 and again the morning of Oct. 4 but could not find her.
On Oct. 5, they issued a missing person notice for Fox, who is 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighs 118 pounds.
Both arrest warrants and the indictments accused Schrader of three counts of obtaining his mother’s money by false pretenses and putting it into his account at Wells Fargo bank. The indictments said that happened between July 7 and Oct. 4.
A charge of exploitation of an older or disabled adult accused Schrader of using $2,620 of his mother’s money “for his own gain,” but the documents do not give details.
Schrader also was accused of abusing Fox by not providing “medical care and hygienic care” and keeping her “confined and restrained” in conditions that were “cruel and unsafe.” The language comes from state criminal law.
The indictment, handed up on Monday, said Fox suffered mental and physical injury because of her treatment, but it again did not give specifics. The abuse charge cites the period from Aug. 1 to Oct. 4.
Harrison declined to go beyond the arrest warrants and the indictments to disclose what investigators have found in the case, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation while it is still going on.