Before the Stroke


Act I: The Plot


Act II:  

The "X" Secured


Act III:

  The Kidnapping


Act IV, Sc.1:

      The Isolation


Act IV, Sc.2:

   The Plundering


Act V, Sc.1:

      The Dumping


Act V, Sc.2:

          The Rescue



    The Indictments


Appendix I:

  The Perpetrators


Appendix II:

    The Friendship



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  Act II: The "X" Secured

                  (The face of greed, like Macbeth's face),

                  is as a book where men may read strange matters.

                                                 (Macbeth, I,v,63)



On August 31, 1985, five months after Amelia's stroke, Carole Dutton secured the Power of her "X."  On the store-bought Power of Attorney form, Carole had typed in the blank spaces and inserted "Nevada" in place of "California."  The document is "witnessed" by an employee at the nursing home and duly recorded.  It is to be noted that Carole did not work through Amelia's attorney, David Small.


Dorothy Dutton wrote that "(by the next business day) Amelia's bank accounts had (been) changed." 


The ground work was evidently well laid to get Amelia to affix her "X."  According to Dorothy, Amelia wanted to return to the "security" and familiarity of her home and to her "two dogs." Carole Dutton reportedly engaged in an intensive campaign of several months of pressure of saying that if she had the Power  of Attorney (instead of Dorothy), she would "take her back to her home, care for her as a member of their family, and make her well again."  


            On several occasions, privately and in the presence of Amelia, Carole told Dorothy & Fontella, when asked what "do you intend to charge Ami" to care for her, that she and Charles wanted to and would care for Amelia "without any charge."  


Knowing of Amelia's writing career, Carole held out an unrealistic if not cruel hope: she would tell her that once we are home, "We will write together."   As an Expressive Aphasic, Amelia could not read, speak, nor write: an "X" and a labored, printed "Ami" represented her sole ability to communicate her identity, much less her thoughts. 


With trust, Amelia signed her "X;" surely in the belief it was a step toward recapturing her vigorous life style that her home represented.  The alternative was painfully obvious to her lucid if not confused mind: remain in what she surely perceived as a lethargic nursing home.


Carole's friend Karren Newcomb, from Bend, Oregon, visited Carole and Charles in September, soon after they removed Amelia from the Convalescent Home.  Karren has stated that Carole was at that time making plans to move to Bend.  


    At her criminal trial, Carole testified that, after obtaining  the Power of Attorney, it was their intentions to remain in Carson City with Ami, but Charles' old job in Bend “unexpectedly" came up, paying "$400 more" than what it used to pay.


    It was an offer they couldn't "refuse."   (One can argue they had actively pursued this job prior to obtaining the Power of  Amelia's "X:" they were in Oregon the weeks before.)


             (One may also surmise that Carole asked Karren, the owner of  Karren Newcomb Real Estate Co., in Bend, OR, to keep her eyes open for a house.  Two years earlier Carole wrote Dorothy that "She's just like a sister to me.")


                          Just weeks before, in August, Charles and Carole were in Oregon for over a

                            week.  It is speculated Charles inquired of his old job in Bend, the prospects of which  prompted them to quickly obtain the Power over Amelia: she signed a week  after they  returned to Carson City.


              [This writer is of the opinion that soon after the Duttons moved into Amelia's home, having access to her financial records, and knowing of Doctor Stoloff's prognosis that she would not live long, the plan slowly evolved to secure Power and isolate her by leaving the state; that by mid July, the details were formulated, and discussed with, in part, Karren Newcomb's husband, John, who was visiting them on July 17, in Carson City.]   



Before Carole secured Power, Dorothy observed that whenever she and her sister went to visit Amelia at the Convalescent Center, Carole was almost always there.  "We seldom had a moment alone with Amelia.  Carole would always sit so that she was between Ami & us."  Up until the time Charles & Carole moved into Amelia's house (on or about May 2), Carole showed little interest and seldom visited Amelia at the Convalescent Home. (The Christmas before Amelia's stroke, Carole did not possess her address, having to send their Xmas card to Amelia via Dorothy.)


Both Dorothy and Fontella instinctively argued against Carole's efforts to take Amelia "home;" repeatedly, they would plead with Amelia not to sign any documents for Carole.  Aside from having developed distrust of Carole & Charles' intentions, they also believed she needed the all-important, initial stroke therapy and professional care being provided by the Convalescent Center.  Medicare was paying for the physical and speech therapy.  The records show Amelia was making progress in recovery.   At one point, prompted surely by extreme determination and effort, Amelia managed to find the words to say to her attorney, David Small, "You're not going to take all my money, are you?"   Dorothy, Fontella and the neighbor Helene Elder were present.   David Small reassured her.  


Carole's daughter, Pamela, told Dorothy, "My mother likes to collect people."


At this point, Dorothy and Fontella had become intimidated by Charles & Carole's aggressive behavior and the constant emotional tension.   The elderly sisters hopelessly withdraw when they accidently learned that Carole & Charles had secured Amelia's Power of Attorney: they had gone to the bank to pay her bills.  Protesting to the clerk at the County Recorder's Office, the sisters are told the new Power of Attorney has been duly recorded and is legal, supplanting Dorothy's.  (Unlike her mother-in-law, Dorothy, Carole did not work thru Amelia's attorney in drafting this new and all-controlling document.)


          The isolation of the victim has always been the instinctual tactic of the predator, either it be on the Serengeti, or in Carson City.        


Amelia Lewis de Gremli returned to her home under the care of Charles and Carole Dutton.   Amelia's speech therapist, Diana Christiansen, was subsequently discharged by Carole after making two visits to Amelia's home to give therapy.  (The speech therapist refused to discuss the situation with this writer.)  Carole was to later testify at her trial that she "tried therapy twice, and it didn't work.")  All therapy for Amelia is permanently discontinued.  Once out of a professional care center, Medicare would no longer pay for therapy.  Apparently, to use Amelia's funds for therapy was an unacceptable alternative;  it would also provide means by which she would eventually regain her independence.


Reportedly, Carole discouraged and successfully blocked any further attempts by the elderly sisters to see their friend of 25 years.  Dorothy reported that Carole made it "quite clear we were not welcomed."   The elderly sisters take seriously the resoluteness of the "threats" if they should continue to interfere with Charles and Carole's objectives.


 On the last meeting between Charles and his mother & aunt (on September 6, the week after Charles and Carole secured  Amelia's "X"), Charles "was just raging like a bull and held his hand . . . (clinched in a fist) . . . as if to strike us."  Fontella (age 81) "ran next door to tell the neighbor to call the police if he should hear us scream."


Nevertheless, the sisters concern for their friend remained paramount: they made two subsequent trips over to Amelia's house to check on their friend.  On one trip no one was home; Carole met them outside on the other visit.  The conversation was polite but curt. 


Dorothy and Fontella soon file a complaint with the Nevada Senior Services.  Case workers Flo Bedrosin and Kindell Wilson visited Amelia at her home; in talking with Carole, they found no evidence of exploitation. (Even if Amelia's checking account was audited, it wasn't until late November that Carole started writing checks to herself; the two and a half month delay was surely prompted by the case workers' early visit.) 


           In reporting back to the two sisters, they said that Amelia appears to be well cared for, adding that Carole told them she did not believe that Amelia could understand anything she (Carole) said to her:


           At her criminal trial, Carole testified that Amelia understood and participated in all major decisions.


Privately, Fontella speculates in her note book that Charles and Carole may be entering their home when no one is home.   On October 26, through a third party, Charles demanded and received from Dorothy,  Amelia's wallet, checkbook, some miscellaneous receipts & items, and her address book and the key to her safety deposit box. 


Amelia's address book was never given to her.  To this date its whereabouts is not known.   (Later, in Bend, when Amelia was placed in Rice's Adult Care Foster Home, both Donita Rice and Mona Hoy asked Carole for Amelia's address book, saying that Amelia wanted it.  Carole” was not responsive.”   A worker at the Rice's Care Home told Dorothy (1991) she had asked Carole for Dorothy & Fontella's address, and Carole responded, "No, I won't give it to you.  They're nothing but trouble!"



The safety deposit box contained gold antique jewelry and two strings of pearls, and Amelia's Will, dated October 26, 1982.  Charles & Carole are not mentioned in this Will; their daughter, Pamela, is remembered by providing a small amount for her education.  (Amelia had provided for her trusted friend, Dorothy, to have free access to this most private of depository.  Dorothy possessed an inventory and a copy of Amelia's Will.)  


This Will also made two separate references to "The enclosed sealed envelope, to be opened only by the executor(s) . . . will find a list of certain rare and valuable items which might otherwise be carelessly or innocently overlooked and sold locally . . .  or be destroyed."   (Like the address book, the whereabouts of this envelope -- and, therefore the inventory of "rare and valuable items" -- has not been accounted for to this date.   The sealed envelope was in the safety deposit box, as part of the Will, when Dorothy gave the key to Charles.)


In January, 1985, two and half months before her stroke, Amelia made notations in the margins of her own copy of her 1982 Will.  She intended, evidently, to consider making some minor revisions, including the bequest to Carole Dutton a $10,000.oo Money Market certificate and a $3,100.oo (1982 appraised) diamond-emerald ring.  It was at this time Charles and Carole were frequently writing to Dorothy & Fontella, reciting their irreversible financial woes, the filing of  bankruptcy and loss of two of their homes.


One can speculate that Amelia's generosity was in response to their financial misfortunes.  Fate will soon present the scales for Carole Dutton to measure out her own generosity to Amelia.


Six years later, when the State of Oregon revoked their Power of Attorney, December 9, 1991, Charles & Carole produced a new Amelia's Will.   It was dated August 28, 1986, leaving (with one exception, a bequest to a deceased aunt) everything to Carole & Charles and their daughter Pamela.



                The extent of the Duttons' insensitiveness is noted in the absence of Amelia's bequest of her vast library (over 1,000 volumes) and research papers which were of no value to the Duttons.  The diminished Will was "signed" with Amelia's "X,” and prepared by Louis Selken, a Bend, Oregon, attorney.   Amelia's original Will, bequest in 60 lines to 14 separate individuals and organizations, had been reduced to 8 lines, to the profit of three: Charles and Carole Dutton, and their daughter Pamela..


                To the extent Amelia's stroke stole her ability to speak more than a dozen words, the stroke also took her ability to write other than a few, labored words, and to read: her extensive jewelry & artifacts are not mentioned in this new Will, nor furniture, nor the mysterious, "sealed envelope."  


              (Amelia would often be seen with one of her cherished volumes open, her finger studying a word for seconds, if not minutes, before backtracking and/or moving forward on to the next.  She looked forward to this writer reading to her.)



On October 27 (the day after Charles demanded and received Ami's safety deposit key, and evidently not finding what she was looking for), Carole sends a note to Dorothy demanding "all" of Amelia's jewelry.   Respecting the legality of the new Power, Dorothy makes a detailed inventory, and sends the jewelry.  On the bottom of the inventory sheet,  Amelia printed "Ami," and Charles signed his initials and date of acceptance (November 2, 1985).


Aside from the above "third party" and "note" correspondence, to date there has been no further contact between Charles & Carole, and Dorothy & Fontella.   For the first time, the sisters did not receive Christmas (1985) greetings from them or the grandchildren.



    [Although Quinn and Amelia went their separate ways since Mexico,

    their paths would, over the passing years, briefly cross on several occasions.  Quinn's 1985 annual Christmas card-letter to Amelia, not answered nor returned, was followed by a letter.   Again no response.  A telephone call resulted in a terse "Ami doesn't live here," and a hang-up.  In September, 1987, concerned about not hearing from Amelia for two Christmases, he visited Carson City to inquire; there, he first heard about Amelia’s plight.  (See Appendix II.)   This writer believes Charles & Carole deliberately took steps to keep Amelia isolated; in this case by intercepting letters and telephone calls.]



               Helene Elder, Amelia's next door neighbor, stated that after Charles & Carole brought Amelia home, it was a common occurrence to hear what she described as "cries of anguish, abuse & screaming" coming from Amelia's home.  (Amelia has a theatrically trained voice that carries; Carole’s voice, untrained, is loud with dominance.)


Helene told Quinn she was discouraged from visiting with Amelia, and she felt "threatened" if she should "talk" with anyone. (It was only with considerable persuasion, and with obvious trepidation, that she disclosed this information, and only after Quinn promised, repeatedly, not to ever tell Charles & Carole).  Helene also told Dorothy & Fontella she was discouraged from seeing Amelia; and was never allowed alone with her, with "Carole answering for her."


              This "fear" of Carole and Charles was also instilled in Dorothy and Fontella.  It lasted for years and was evident when Quinn first visited them (and Helene) in September, 1987, and they repeatedly asked him to never let Charles & Carole know they had spoken to him about Amelia's plight.


              Dorothy and Fontella also expressed their fear of reprisal when they finally were able to contact Amelia's only living relative and sister, Betty Barney in Ohio.  In a letter Betty wrote to Amelia (Sept. 23, 1991), explaining she had just learned from the sisters of Amelia's whereabouts, she wrote:


       "She also warned me (as I am you) never tell Carole we've

 corresponded, it could be dangerous!"  


              Betty closes her letter with, "Please do not tell Carole or Charles I've heard from Fontella or Dorothy.  I am sure the Social Worker got my address & I've found out about you through a grapevine!"

                    (Underlines--double--and parenthesis are Betty's)



        Amelia's three closest friends, Helene, along with Dorothy and Fontella, are remembered in Amelia’s 1982 Will:


             "To my beloved friends, so good and true, whose honesty and

 integrity, whose grace and unstinting generosity, whose

 depth of patient understanding of me and all of my human

 flaws have made my last years so happy and comforting . . ."



        Carole Dutton -- through implied reprisals -- deliberately denied Amelia the therapeutic and comforting values of these close and loving relationships of many years.   Carole also was quick to erase them out of Amelia's Will.



    "The family (and friends) is surely the most important

    resource available to the stroke victim . . . in every

    phase of rehabilitation.  . . . the physical help will

    fail if the emotional (support) is not there."

            --- Arthur S. Freeese, M.D., Stroke: The New Hope

                & The New Help  (Random House, 1980. p.154)





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