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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                                        Appendix I

            Charles F. (b. 1941) and Carole J. (Kenan) Dutton (b. 1939):

                                                                   A profile

                     Your hand, your tongue: Look like

                         the innocent flower,

                     But be the serpent under 't.

                                     (Macbeth, I,v,60)


Charles & Carole Duttons-1984      The slope to financial ruin is slippery when it is waxed with self justification.  In 1980, five years before moving to Carson City (in bankruptcy and in debt, unemployed, and homeless), to move in with his mother and aunt, Charles & Carole Dutton purchased a 3-story, 3164 sq. ft. home with "6 legal bedrooms."   This house, in Gladstone, Oregon, was purchased before they had sold their previous 2-story, 2200 sq. ft. home.   This first home did not sell as anticipated, and, after trying to carry double mortgage payments for two years, they eventually "lost" their equity in the house in April, 1982. 


              Their income did not justify the purchase of the new house (a $96K first TD at 12«%; payments at $1,199, excl. taxes  and insurance.)  Charles, as a "licensed electrician was earning   $600.oo per week."  Carole (with "GRI" after her name) was working as a Real Estate Broker-Manager for Century 21;  she reported their combined income was "$5,000.oo per  month," with her receiving "$1,750 plus percentage of net, plus commission."


            Over the next three years they add, as Carole wrote Dorothy, "$11,000 in improvements" to their new home, including new hardwood floors and a swimming pool.



Amazingly, a year after purchasing this new house, in the early summer of 1981 (while faced with mortgage payments on two houses) Carole quits her job with Century 21;  and on August 20 Carole writes that Charles has gone into business for himself, having bought out a friend's electrical contracting business.  Working out of their home, Carole becomes the secretary/bookkeeper.  Also in August, Carole starts drawing $150 per week in unemployment benefits. 


The Duttons' apparent penchant for spending their income before paying their obligations quickly draws the attention of the I.R.S.  On February 1, 1982, Dorothy and Fontella each loan them $1,500.00 ($3,000.00 total) because the I.R.S. was "after them " with a "lien."  In her letter, Carole promises repayment at 11%, and mentions that they also borrowed money from her mother and father-in-law (Betty & Wayne Slater).   


By the first week of April, 1982, Carole's unemployment checks stop, and about the same time they "lost" their first house.   They struggle on for another two years, sinking deeper.  Carole writes, "We can't face another winter here under these economic conditions," and blames the State's policies for "making it impossible for any small business to survive."


In April, 1983, the Duttons take in a foster child, Aaron Crowe, age 17;  they received, as Carole wrote, "a meager $281/month."  She keeps him approximately six months.


Not heeding advice from Dorothy and Fontella to "dump the house," they blindly hold onto it until they lost the opportunity to sell, having to let it go, like their first house, in foreclosure.


             Carole's obsession to hold on to this expensive home took precedent over basic necessities.  She wrote Dorothy thanking her for a $25.00 check, $15.00 of which went for a pair of leather shoes "I can wear everyday and keep my feet warm.  All I had was my sandals.  I needed them desperately."   


    In the same letter Carole noted she is "making a pool cover out of my old sheets.”  And, after living in this house for two and a half years "without drapes for the living room" ("couldn't afford the rods"), Dorothy & Fontella sent them a pair of Kirsch Antique Brass Drapery Rods.  (The sisters paid $112.55; the Duttons were to later charge Amelia $200.00 for these same drapery rods.)



Several times during the summer of 1984, they make plans to go to California to look for work, but they never follow through.  By this time Charles' business has folded and he's doing what part time contracting jobs he can find.  Of their many debts, Charles owes $20,000.00 to his electrical wholesaler.  In May, (possibly as a gesture of denial of the coming storm) Carole goes to the expense of redoing their daughter's bathroom.


In October, 1984, the Duttons declare bankruptcy in Clackamas County.  They move to Bend, Oregon, and on November 1 Charles is employed as an Electrical Inspector with Deschutes County.  The pay is $1,428.00/month on a 4-day week "with 100% medical coverage."   


            When the Duttons moved to Bend, they "stripped (their former) house of all the goodies we added to it . . . everything that wouldn't leave visible damage," replacing switches and light fixtures "with cheaper units. . . . We figure we can (use) these things when we finally do get another house of our own again."  (Later, much of this salvage will end up in Amelia's house, at inflated prices charged to Amelia.)



 In Bend they find a rental at 2135 NE 8th Street, at $450.00 per month, plus utilities.  Their teenage daughter, Pam, is with them; the two grown sons remained in Milwaukee, Oregon; Michael (19) moved in with his girlfriend, Debbie Bergio.


On January 23, 1985, they received the final notice of foreclosure on their Gladstone house.  Amazingly, the next day Carole writes, "I am still praying for a miracle to save it."   (She described herself as a "Christian" with "old fashioned moral values" and, if there should be any doubt, membership in the Pat Roberson's 700 Club.)


In her many letters to Dorothy & Fontella, Carole is quick to complain about their new life in Bend; how "unfair" it is that Charles does not make more money; that his "cruel" boss, who is single, without a family to support, makes more money.     


            Dorothy states that Carole "convinced Charles to demand a raise or quit."  After three months of employment, Charles quit.  (Dorothy said she advised her son to first find another job before threatening to quit.  He evidently didn't listen to mother.)



Again, Carole writes, "Bend is a dead end," adding, "is this the Great American Dream?"   Prophetically, if not ominously, she notes that in Bend, "to keep up with minimal living costs (you need) some kind of other income."


Again, Carole writes, ". . . We aren't living fancy, but as long as there's hope of opportunity elsewhere, we refuse to live in a dump, which is the next lower step from where we are here." 


The "opportunity elsewhere" involved quitting his job and moving in with Dorothy and Fontella, in Carson City.  The move was financed by a $900.00 loan from Charles' aunt, Fontella Kirk.


   At Charles' insistence, Fontella sent the $900.oo directly to their son's (Michael) girlfriend, Debbie Bergio, in Milwaukee, OR.   Charles "said he was afraid to have the money sent to (Bend) in his own name.  They owed so much money he was afraid he could not cash the check.  They were even afraid they would lose their furniture."


            NOTE: The Duttons arrived in Bend with a clean slate, having

            declared bankruptcy only four months earlier.  The amount of

            debts they incurred in four months is not recorded.



They arrived in Carson City, Nevada, February 25, 1985.  "They were so run down and broke . . . Charles boots were completely worn out."   Their daughter, Pam, had arrived a week earlier by air.   Just before Carole left Oregon, she wrote to her daughter:  "This nightmare will soon be over . . ."


Less than six weeks later, Amelia Lewis de Gremli suffered her stroke. 



During the eight weeks Charles and Carole lived under the roof of generosity (and the charity) of Dorothy and Fontella, their ingratitude and lack of consideration quickly became evident.  In a letter Fontella described their living habits:


            "Carole got up late --sauntered to the table--would drink coffee and crochet and complain.  About noon she might decide to make the bed.  Our house was a mess, but we never said a word to them or asked them to do anything."   (Elsewhere, Fontella noted Carole's constant smoking.)


             In her diary, April 4, 1985, Fontella writes, "When someone lives with you I think they should at least clean the bathroom, use the sweeper, dust or something.   Personally, I don't want to live like a slob."


      "All we heard were complaints from Carole: Their bed was like a hammock, you don't load the dishwasher right, etc. . .  always looking for a clue to criticize someone  trying to give you a boost."   (Their "bed" was the living room sofa-hide-a-bed; their daughter, Pam, slept in the spare bedroom.)


            Charles found work in Reno and would have to take the car.  This left Carole -- and Pam, when she wasn't in school -- home alone with the sisters.   Fontella writes:


            "All we wanted for taking care of Pamela, picking up after her, hauling her around, feeding her, entertaining her, etc. was a simple 'thank you.'  (Carole) couldn't even do that."


            Dorothy tells that their bathroom, after Carole and Pam used it, was a "disaster."  "They never once attempted to clean up after themselves."


[Even Charles and Carole's pet cat, "Scooter," which they brought with them from Oregon, expressed himself in kind.  Dorothy described the cat as "a real brat cat," that "scratched our new couch and new custom sheers.    That did it.  I took cardboard and card tables and put them up against the best furniture.   Carole even laughed when I said, 'Scooter plucked our new sheers.'"   The cat would use a pan for a toilet, but "Carole never did change the box and clean it up.  Finally, I couldn't stand the stench and odor any longer (and cleaned it up)."  The sisters note that Carole took no responsibility, and even "the neighbors complained about this darned cat."]



            Carole's apparent resentment of their circumstance, if not imagined subservientness, soon exploded.  Fontella wrote that when they were living with us, the only time Carole ever "raised a hand to help us with the (household chores)" was when she took a chicken from their freezer (stored in our garage) and, without telling us, started cooking it for dinner.  Dorothy, preparing to go to the grocery store, asked Carole, "What are you cooking?" 


             "Carole turned to Dorothy with her most hateful voice and said, 'When I am in my OWN kitchen I don't have to tell anyone what I am cooking.'"  (Caps hers.)


           Fontella continues, "Dorothy started to cry -- she was so hurt.  I went back and talked to Dorothy and then came to Carole and said, 'when someone makes my sister cry I don't like it,' and told her to apologize to Dorothy.    She was not too happy with me after that."   (For years this incident angered the sisters.)




When Charles and Carole (with their daughter Pam) secretly departed Nevada with Amelia (Jan., 1986), they owed Dorothy and Fontella $5,803.11, at 11%  ($3,390.33 owed to Fontella;  $2,412.78 owed to Dorothy).   Fontella said that the last (and only time) she requested payments be made (a week after Charles and Carole secured the Power of Amelia's "X"), Charles glared and sneered at me and answered, 'Sue me!' "  (Their 1991 IRS 1040 showed an income of $45,014.oo.  Their rent and most of their utilities for the past seven years were free, paid for by Amelia.)



On Christmas Eve, 1985, Fontella writes in her diary:


             ". . . didn't even get a phone call, card or best wishes

             (from Charles, Carole, nor Pam).  I don't know why

            they have all turned on us when all we wanted was to help

            them."   It was a very lonely Christmas for the two elderly




* * * * * * *


A Personality Profile:


CHARLES  DUTTON appears to be passive and introverted, who, Carole writes, when under pressure "loses his cool at the drop of a hat."  


Subservient to his wife, Carole makes all decisions.   During their criminal trial, sitting at the defense table or standing outside the courtroom, Charles displayed no emotion, reaction or response to the surrounding proceedings.   The only detectable movement was the constant flickering of his left masseter muscle of his jaw.


Dorothy wrote: "I talked like turk trying to talk them out of taking care of Ami.  Charles wouldn't really comment, he always let Carole be the boss.  She always handled the money."


             Charles is the only child, adopted at age 4, by Dorothy Dutton and her husband, Charles.  Dorothy related how she and her husband Charles, on impulse, adopted their son:  Dorothy and her husband were visiting in Alma, Wabansee County, KS, and a friend offered Dorothy and Charles his son to adopt.  Charles was the seventh child of eight.  Born in Iowa, his birth name was Charles Franklin Hasenbenk.  They accepted him “on the spot,” and returned to their ranch in Jamul, California with young Charles, where he was formally adopted. 


            This writer suspects that Charles has been harboring a hidden, growing resentment toward his adoptive mother, Dorothy, blaming her for taking him away from his birth father, and toward his father for giving him up:  A recipe for emasculation, the need for a strong controlling woman, and his haste in turning against his mother.   


[In 1958, Dorothy's husband, Charles, was murdered by a hitch hiker while on a trip through Arizona, returning from Indiana.  Although a suspect was identified and his name known, he has never been located, and the case has not been solved.  Thus, this early tragedy has never been fully laid to rest.  Dorothy has not remarried.  She lives with her sister, Fontella Kirk.]


It can be argued that CAROLE  DUTTON is a controller to the point of being abusive:  A compulsive talker (high monthly telephone bills), a compulsive letter writer (pages upon pages of mundane details in a barrage of many-paged letters), one who (as her daughter, Pam, stated to Dorothy Dutton) "likes to collect people" (and, as her letters indicate with at least three teenagers she "helped" (long before “helping” Amelia), abandoned them with good riddance comments when they had served their purpose). 


    Her many letters portray a martyr whose destiny is to show the way for those lost souls in need of her direction.  “He's  getting a good dose of Family Values here," in describing  a "disruptive" foster child she took in for 6 months.


Denying Amelia speech and physical therapy and keeping her isolated  served two purposes: Carole's pathological need to control a fiercely independent, self-assured, well educated individual; and it assured Carole of her victim's silence and dependence.


Like all who attempt to control, they, in a distorted manner, professes undying love, concern and sacrifice for their subject;  but once the control is irrevocably lost and the subject closes the door on them, they feel "betrayed," and turn to revenge and destruction as a final gesture to complete the control.  The Duttons quest to claim ownership of all of Amelia's remaining assets was not only a final quest to pad their pockets, but also to reaffirm Carole's need to be, in the final analysis, vindicated, superior, and in control of the situation.


The challenge to Carole's pathology was enhanced by Amelia's extensive educational and professional accomplishments, and her financial independence (see Prologue).  Carole, not well traveled, had, at best, a high school education (Grassmont Union High School, La Mesa, CA) with little demonstrated interest in reading.  She professes being devoted to her "family and home" and "hooked on" watching The Young & Restless television program.   She shows a self-gratifying life style that is self-justified and in marked contrast to Amelia's deep sense of social responsibility and community involvement (impressively manifested in her 1982 Will).


Dorothy, in describing Carole's home in Oregon wrote:    " . . . . her home was dirty as a 'hog pen.'"  (It is useful in this connection to recall Amelia’s neighbor Helene Elder's  description of the Duttons' living conditions when they lived in Ami's home.) 



Alas, Amelia's extensive library (900-1,000 non-fiction books) was kept packed in boxes for over 7 years, not only withheld from Amelia, but also not made available to themselves, much less their own daughter. 


It is of significance that the $20,759.22 of improvements (labor and materials, using Amelia's money) the Duttons are claiming they made to Amelia's house, not one cent was invested to make it more independent (user friendly) for a handicapped person.  (It was also an indication the Duttons had no intentions of  keeping Amelia around for long.)



In court, Carole spoke of "the love" they have for Amelia, and how they "treated her as a loved member (of their family)”.


Outside the courtroom, Carole is overheard saying to her daughter, Pam, that she feels "betrayed by Amelia."


            Fontella Kirk reveals an insight into Carole Dutton when she wrote (Feb. 2, 1992) about Carole’s parents:


      "Carole's father has been dead for about 28 years.  (Carole was about 8-10 years old.) He was drowned along with his youngest daughter (Gayle) when the cable broke loose on the boat crossing the river out of Big Bar, Calif.   Dorothy knew him pretty well.  He was one of those men that drove a new Cadillac one season and an old Ford the next.   He was always getting their electricity shut off.  (Carole's) Mother and father were divorced and never did adjust.  Just kept fighting."  Later, Dorothy  writes, "Her dad didn't want her to see her mother."


      (Above parenthesis mine.  This incident alone could well fuel the demons possessing Carole.  She may equate losing their Gladstone house with losing her dad and sister.  On Jan. 25, 1985, she writes Dorothy & Fontella, from Bend,  regarding receiving, two days earlier, the foreclosure notice:  "I feel as if I am literally bound & gagged and forced to watch it crumble -- outside of losing my dad and Gayle,         it's the worst experience of my life -- ever!   I found myself still praying for a miracle to save it.")      



At this writing it is believed Charles and Carole Dutton reside in the Portland, Oregon area.

 "Charles, a life-time heavy smoker, passed away at home, the morning of May 1, 2011.  The day before he lapsed into a coma, induced by Pulmonary Fibrossis (IPF). He was only 70;  Charles’ IPF was diagnosed  ten years earlier, in 1960.     He was surrounded by his wife and three children, Pamela, Mike, Bill, and Bill’s spouse, Angie, possibly others.  

Pam, fiercely, if not blindly loyal to her parents, especially her father, writes (May 2, 2011) on her Facebook Wall: “He is in Heaven with Jesus now.   . . . I can’t wait to see him there . . .



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