Warrants: Wendell man's story of his mother's disappearance kept changing
Posted November 7, 2016
Wendell, N.C. — A Wendell man gave "vague and inconsistent statements" to Wake County Sheriff's Office investigators in recent weeks about his mother's whereabouts, according to search warrants released Monday.
Carolyn Sue Fox, 74, hasn't been seen since July, and Wake County investigators have been searching for her for the past month, when a concerned friend asked deputies to check her home on Turnipseed Road.
A grand jury indicted Fox's son, Stephen Owen Schrader, 53, last month on charges of abuse of a disabled or elderly person resulting in serious injury, exploitation of a disabled or elderly person's trust and obtaining property by false pretense. He remains in the Wake County jail under a $200,000 bond.
Schrader hasn't been charged in his mother's disappearance, but deputies have ramped up their investigation in the case.
They have searched the Turnipseed Road home Schrader and Fox shared three times since early October, including bringing in cadaver dogs to check for human remains inside and outside the home.
"It is believed that Stephen Owen Schrader is involved in his mother's disappearance and has brought harm to Carolyn Sue Fox," investigators wrote in an application for the search warrants.
Schrader told investigators that his mother had gone to visit people in Canada and later that she had moved to the Philippines because the air was better there for her health, according to the search warrants. Investigators later confirmed that Fox doesn't have a passport and never left the country.
Schrader also said his mother had taken her five dogs with her but that one had died, according to the search warrants. Investigators later found that Schrader had surrendered four dogs to the Wake County Animal Shelter on July 20, saying the owner had suffered injuries and could no longer care for the dogs.
Schrader's name had been added to his mother's bank account on July 5, and numerous debit card transactions on the account had occurred in recent months, according to the search warrants.
Investigators also saw Schrader burning items outside the home that had been in the trunk of Fox's car, the search warrants state.
Friends of Fox told investigators that she was afraid of Schrader and that he had been abusive toward her in the past, according to the search warrants.
Investigators seized dozens of items from the home during the three searches, including shoes, checkbook, a computer, a chainsaw, drugs, cash, paperwork, pruning shears, drug paraphernalia, Schrader's passport, knives, a hammer and cellphones.