A Wake County man who is accused of abusing his missing mother and taking money from her told sheriff's investigators when they first questioned him that 74-year-old Carolyn Sue Fox went to visit friends in Canada with her four dogs and has moved to a Philippine island, according to search warrants for her home.
The warrants also reveal that deputies have used a cadaver dog to search the yard around Fox’s house at 6524 Turnipseed Road, the crawl space under it and the rooms inside, although that has not produced any clues, according to an affidavit submitted to a Superior Court judge to back up the request for one of the warrants.
Stephen Owen Schrader Jr., 53, told authorities when they interviewed him at the house on Oct. 3 that his mother had a passport and had left her oxygen tank behind because the air quality in Cebu would make it unnecessary.
Schrader also said he was not sure what date his mother had left, who took her to the airport or who the Canadian friends are.
When investigators checked Schrader’s story, they found that Fox has no passport and that he had surrendered his mother’s four dogs to the Wake County Animal Shelter on July 20. He said the dogs’ owner had injuries that prevents that person from taking care of them anymore.
A friend of Fox’s reported her missing on Oct. 3 because she had not seen Fox since mid-July and believed Schrader had threatened previously to hurt his mother.
Schrader was arrested Oct. 10 on charges of obtaining property by false pretense, exploiting the trust of a disabled or elderly person and abusing a disabled or elderly person inflicting serious injury.
He remains in the Wake County Detention Center in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Schrader initially said Fox was not getting any medical treatment and “is just eating,” Investigator T.S. Barefoot wrote in one affidavit. But he also said that his mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and that he had received some mail from Canada indicating she was being treated there, according to authorities.
He had thrown away that mail, however, the investigators said he told them.
Barefoot said investigators found another of Fox’s friends who told them she had taken Fox to a doctor’s appointment on July 14 and last spoke with her by phone two days later.
The woman got no answer when she called the house on July 19 to arrange to pick up Fox for another doctor’s appointment, Barefoot said. The woman also said Fox was supposed to have begun treatment for cancer on July 21.
Schrader was made a co-owner of Fox’s Wells Fargo bank account on July 5, investigators said, and he got a debit card for the account.
Looking at three months’ of records, Barefoot told the judge there had been “countless debit card transactions from Mr. Schrader’s card.” A credit report showed that Fox‘s credit cards were nearing their maximums, the affidavit said.
From what the sheriff’s office could learn, Barefoot said, Fox has income from Social Security, a Fidelity Investments pension and an annuity from Allianz Life Insurance Co. Schrader appears to have no income, Barefoot said.
Investigators first searched the house, which Fox owns, on Oct. 4, the day after they interviewed Schrader.
One of the search warrants returned Friday to the Wake County Clerk of Courts lists 37 items that investigators took away, including $12,200 that was in a bag inside a locked box in Schrader’s bedroom.
They also found a life insurance policy for Fox and Schrader’s passport.
Also on the list was paperwork relating to a mental evaluation Schrader had undergone at an unspecified date and paperwork for anger management treatment for him.
From a pantry, they took a box that held a hatchet. In other rooms, they collected knives, saws and a machete, the warrant says.
They also seized Fox’s gold, 2001 Buick Regal, which they said Schrader had been driving.
The same day, a search warrant let investigators look through a partially built house on a lot next door that Fox had deeded to Schrader, but they took nothing from there. They said the house had been under construction since 2006 and is unfinished.
Two days later, investigators went back to Turnipseed Road with a new search warrant and took away multiple pairs of shoes, another warrant says.