The son, daughter, and son-in-law of a woman last seen in 1982 have now been formally charged with fraud, theft, and accessing her accounts without her knowledge.
Charles Jost, 66, Dolores Disher, 69, and Ronald Disher, 71, made their initial appearances Monday in Portage County Court.
According to prosecutors, the three had received $175,000 in social security benefits which was to be paid to Marie Jost, the mother of Charles and Dolores. Investigators say when they searched the Disher's Almond home they found $8,000 throughout the property.
When they searched Marie's last known address in Amherst Junction, where her son Charles currently lives, they found $9,000 in a fanny-pack.
The court entered not guilty pleas of theft, using an account without the owner's knowledge, mail fraud and forgery on the behalf of Ronald Disher Monday in court.
$1,000 was added to his bond of $20,000 for an extra charge of battery of a prisoner her received. Police say he got into a fight with an inmate on Sept. 8. He's due back in court on Sept. 28th.
Dolores Disher also pleaded not guilty to the same charges. She's due back in court the same day as her husband.
Monday in court, Charles Jost was ordered to undergo a competency hearing. A future court date has not been scheduled.
The Portage County Sheriff's Office says in August they were contacted by the United States Social Security Administration asking for assistance in locating Marie Jost after after several pieces of mail went unanswered. Marie, who will turn 101 in October, had also not used medical benefits since 1980.
On August 30, Deputies went to Marie's home and made contact with Charles. He explained that Marie was alive and well and on a trip with her other son, Theodore, who is 74, and also hasn't been seen since the 1980s. According to a criminal complaint, Jost became agitated when police asked to look around the property.
A neighbor who lived next door to the Jost's for 20 years told investigators they had never seen Marie or Theodore at home.
Investigators also questioned Marie's daughter and son-in-law, Ronald and Delores Disher at their Almond home. During the interview, Ronald pulled out a sharpened metal file and threatened the officers at the scene. He was later taken into custody.
A second search warrant was obtained and Ronald, Delores, and Charles were all taken to the Portage County Jail on charges of forgery, as it appears that Marie’s Social Security checks had been fraudulently signed and cashed for several years.
Earlier this month, the State Crime Lab was at Charles' property. Captain Dale O'Kray from the Portage County Sheriff's Department says cadaver dogs have picked up spots of interest, but no human remains have been found. Captain O'Kray says the search for evidence will be slow one, as Charles Jost was a hoarder.
On Monday, police brought in an excavator to dig deeper at hot spots on the property.
"We've had to bring in some more equipment with digging because it wasn't going to happen, just digging with shovels," Cpt. O'Kray said.
Deputies say information provided by family members has been inconsistent. Dolores Disher first told investigators she saw her mother less than a year ago. Then she changed her story, saying she hadn't seen her since her sister's funeral in 1980.
The Dishers also told police that Marie and Theodore have been traveling around the country for the last 30 years in a motor home, and that Charles is the only one who contacts Marie. They said Charles sends her her social security checks to sign, and then she sends them back.
Another sister, Marie Housholder, told investigators she hasn't seen her mother since 1980, but her family continues to send Marie cards and pictures. Housholder recevied a letter purporting to be from her mother, with a return address of her last known address.
Police also discovered a scrapbook at the Dishers' home called, "Momma's letters." It had letters written to the Dishers signed by Marie from between 2006 and 2011. The return address was the Amherst Junction property Marie owns.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts or last know location of either Marie or Theodore Jost is urged to contact the Portage County Sheriff’s Office at (715) 346-1400. Detectives are working to put together a timeline of the last time the two were heard from.
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