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 II

                        Friendship is love, without the wings.



Joseph Quinn and Amelia first met in México City in 1956.  It was early spring, at a dinner party arranged by mutual friends. Amelia was teaching drama at the American High School, and Joseph was a student at México City College (now, the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla) and living in the small village of Cuajimalpa, on the side of the mountain above and SW of México City.


Amelia arrived in México City in 1955 a year before Quinn, to get a divorce from her second husband, Bill Downs, a Colonel in the U.S. Army.   They had met when they were both in Japan, immediately following the War.  (As is the custom in México, the divorced wife may assume the name of her maternal grandmother: de Gremli.)  She remained in México until 1960, a year after Quinn returned to the States.   


            Born Amelia Margaret Cox, her first husband was Gene Lewis, a promising playwright and former Catholic priest (or a seminary student) who gave up the collar for her.  Less than two years after they were married, as the War in the South Pacific was ending, his plane was shot down.   Immediately following the War, she joined Special Services, U.S.A., and, as a member of CATS (Civilian Actress Technicians), went to Japan as a cultural liaison to help heal the wounds between the two countries: a testament to the generosity of this woman's heart.  Her work was honored with an audience with the Princess of Japan.


Their relationship in México immediately developed into a lasting friendship.  Quinn, a dyslexics with Asperger Syndrome, had a speech defect; Amelia, a drama speech coach with the low, powerful voice of a stage actress, was instrumental in helping to correct Quinn's speech.   To this day, he still relies upon exercises she taught him. 


(Fate has its touch of irony: 38 years later he was back with her, at her side,

attempting to teach his speech teacher to speak.)


Amelia, a raven-haired, almond-eyed statuesque beauty was dating a matador and, knowing Quinn's interest in drawing, would invite him to a private corrida outside of the city to sketch her working the young bulls under the attentive hands of her matador and the watchful eyes of his entourage.   She was also fending off the pursuits of a retired Mexican general, Enrique Calberon Rodrique de Garcia, who rode with Pancho Villa, was a former presidential candidate, and, at the time, head of México's Secret Service.  (Her most cherished piece of jewelry, a large emerald surrounded by diamonds and mounted on a platinum ring, was given to her by Enrique Calberon.)


One evening, before Quinn returned to the States, Amelia said that she "knew" somehow he would be an important part of her life.


After México, they both went their separate ways.  Quinn pursued a career as a stage designer and artist, and teaching at O.S.U and the University of Portland in Oregon.   They always kept in touch, exchanging Christmas cards and occasional mid-year letters.  And, unexpectedly, their paths would cross several times over the ensuing years.   (The first time, Quinn volunteered to run the lighting for a production of "Cloud Seven" at the Long Beach (CA) Community Playhouse.  Unbeknownst to him at the time, Amelia was playing the lead.  Another time, when Quinn was at Gonzaga University, in Spokane, Amelia was across the border in Idaho establishing the Lake Side Playhouse in Coeur d’Alene.) 


Quinn did not receive a Christmas card from Amelia in 1985 and 1986.  A letter to her Carson City home in early l986 was not returned nor answered.  He was not overly concerned: several times in their relationship he would not hear from her, only to unexpectedly receive a letter from some unheard of region of the world, overflowing with enthusiasm of a new adventure.



In September, 1987, along with Larry Batson and his cousin, Nelda Foster, on a return trip from Long Beach, CA, he stopped by Carson City to inquire about his friend. There, he first heard the beginnings of this incredible tale of duplicity and treachery; albeit only the basic, somewhat evasive responses, first from Amelia's neighbor, Helene Elder (only after considerable probing and a promise to never reveal to Charles and Carole the source: she was truly afraid), and later that evening, from the sisters Dorothy Dutton & Fontella Kirk.  Dorothy professed not knowing to where Amelia was taken;  Fontella remained silent during the discourse, out of deference to her sister, but, at one point, did quietly mention Oregon.  No details were forthcoming.  Nelda Foster, who was in the room with me, later said that they were not telling everything.


            It was only later that Quinn realized the elderly sisters, and the neighbor Helene, were aware of the physical, emotional and financial abuse inflicted upon Amelia and that Charles & Carole had taken her to Bend; that they truly feared the consequences if Charles and  Carole would ever learn they disclosed their whereabouts. 


At this early date, Dorothy and Fontella had a well deserved, genuine fear of Charles and Carole.  Later, as the years passed, the continued denial of knowledge of Amelia’s whereabouts was prompted more, this writer believes, by Dorothy’s growing guilt (clothe in the self protection of denial) of not coming to her friend’s aid years sooner.



Returning to Oregon and searching city directories, first for Duttons, again under Amelia's name, he located her address in the Bend directory.


Quinn wrote to Amelia and, later, to Charles and Carole inquiring about Amelia.   The letters were not answered nor returned.  He called.  A woman who answered tersely told Quinn that Amelia cannot speak or understand what is said to her, she is a "vegetable" and "crazy," and any contact with her would only serve to make matters worse.  She then hung up.


On the advice of Patrice Petersen (Supervisor, Protective Services Division of the Mid-Willamette Valley Senior Services Agency, McMinnville, OR), Quinn contacted the Bend office of Senior Services (October 20, 1987).  A caseworker (understandingly, no longer with the agency) was assigned the case.  She told Quinn she had checked directly with Charles & Carole and was assured Amelia was being well cared for.   She informed Quinn that his fears were groundless.  


Quinn next contacted Detective Bob Cosner (Deschutes County Sheriff Dept.).  It turned out that he had a relative living across the street from the Duttons, who reported nothing negative about them or the situation.   Bob Cosner reported back to Quinn that everything appeared to be OK.  (Cosner is no longer a detective; last heard, he is a patrolman, working the night shift.) 


            In both cases, it was the self serving foxes who were consulted if the gate was closed to the chicken yard.   Karren Ruesing,  Senior & Disabled Services Division, years later told Quinn her supervisor said they "dropped the ball" on the original investigation.)



At some time during this period, late 1987, Quinn had contacted the Eugene Office of the FBI.  He was referred back to the local authorities.  (All the available agents were preoccupied with the events unfolding in Antelope, Oregon, and the Rajneesh commune on the old “Big Muddy Ranch.”)


Finally, Quinn contacted Earl Yamashita, of the Carson City office of the Nevada State Senior Services.   He (or his caseworker, Flo Bedrosian), did check with Dorothy & Fontella, but Yamashita reported back to Quinn there was little if anything to his allegations.  


At this early point in time, one can appreciate if the sisters, (especially Dorothy)            were not wholly responsive to the agency's inquires about criminal allegations            involving her only son, and the belief of possible repercussions from him and            Carole. This, I am sure, added much to Dorothy’s growing guilt of not taking an            active role in Ami’s interest, especially when the opportunity presented itself.



Until Amelia herself successfully made contact with the outside world, August 12, 1991, Dorothy was very guarded, if not evasive, in Quinn's early contacts with her regarding Amelia, Charles and Carole.  Dorothy denied knowledge of Amelia’s whereabouts not only to Quinn, but to the  national  A Current Affair  TV reporter; later, at trial, she acknowledged having known all along where Charles and Carole took their friend Amelia.




The tragedy of this story is not only Amelia's; it is also shared by Dorothy Dutton and her sister, Fontella Kirk.   Many have been entrapped by the web woven by the actions of Charles & Carole, including themselves.   Having lost her husband, Dorothy now had to deal with the "loss" of her only son;  the year of "crying herself to sleep every night," the predictable phases of denial, anger, guilt, the bargains made with her God, the constant, unending search in her heart and the tug-of-war of loyalty between her son, Charles, and the growing guilt of not doing more to help her friend, Amelia.   When the criminal trial against Charles and Carole started, Dorothy said, "The courts shall be the judge."


It had been since late August, 1991, when the sisters visited their dear friend, Amelia, in Bend, that they were willing to be responsive to Quinn's probing, if not sometimes painful, inquires.   One can only express admiration, if not awe, of the inner strength for the stand Dorothy has decided to take:  Her journey has taken six years.  Only she could choose the path.  Many mothers would, understandingly, never attempt it.  She and Fontella were witnesses for the prosecution at Charles & Carole's

criminal trial, and subsequent civil arbitration.



The source for much of the background information in this narration was provided to Quinn by Dorothy and Fontella Kirk.  This has been through correspondence, telephone conversations, copies of documents and numerous letters they received (and saved) from Carole and Charles over the years.


Source material was also obtained from conversations with other participants in Carson City, including Helene Elder and Natalie Pullin (both former neighbors to Amelia), the Senior Services and the speech therapist in Nevada.


Trial testimony and exhibits were also consulted.


The following participants have provided affidavits in support of this narration: Dorothy Dutton, Nelda Foster, Thelma Garbutt, Fontella Kirk, Natalie Pullin, Joseph Quinn, and Kathaleen Ridout. 


Amelia herself has provided information and collaboration.  At times she would bring up a subject herself, and usually a game of charades would follow as we zero in on what she is trying to communicate.  At other times, especially when she is having a"good" day, when there is positive support present and she is elated over something, she would come forth with a meaningful group of words; on occasion, a very coherent, complete and responsive statement.  The context of the subject matter at hand plays an important part.  Her (sometimes very dramatic) responses, physical and verbal, to questions can be quite meaningful, especially in areas very close to her (i.e. her anger toward the Duttons, especially when they were living, rent free,  in her home she held the deed to,  while she was kept in  a room at the Foster Care Home).  Usually, Amelia is slow in responding when going from one subject matter to another; it takes her a few moments to shift her mental gears.  And, there have been a few times, usually when the day has been long and she is tired, her face draws a complete blank: one might as well be talking to her in Greek.


            Due caution has been given to her "yes" and "no" answers to direct, sometimes leading questions (especially when the subject matter has not been well established).   In such instances, there have been times she would give a positive answer to a question that, when asked fifteen minutes later, or a day later, becomes a negative answer.  Unless such answers have been resolved through collaboration, or thru an enthusiastic response over a period of time, they have not been relied upon.


There is no question her mind was sharp and very lucid, honed by a life of discipline, academia, and active involvement in the world around her.  (Her mental prowess was her shield and sanity for six years of isolation and abuse.)  She was very cognizant of events surrounding her.  


The popular TV show Jeopardy was her favorite.  While she watched, her physically expressive and dramatic responses in knowing the answers substituted for not being able to voice her extensive knowledge of literature.


But as an Expressive Aphasic, much of the bridge her thoughts must travel to be voiced or written, has been destroyed, more so by the years of isolation and no therapy.  This same bridge affects her ability to read, and on occasion, the ability to quickly sort out what is being said to her.  


The vast improvement she has accomplished by her own efforts since 1991, through the active encouragement and positive environment of those around her, is an indictment to the years of being denied therapy.


            Ironically, she could sing complete songs (i.e. all the Christmas carols) flawlessly.  But in such cases she is pulling words from the right (creative and undamaged) side of her brain, songs long since committed to memory.


             Quinn had discussed this apparent right-brain capacity to function with Karren Palmer, General Manager of the Community Theatre of the Cascades (CTC) in Bend.   Plans were made to have Amelia participate in their singing troupe.   CTC also considered, if the right play came along, writing in a small “walk-on” wheelchair part to see if she can speak lines "in character."   It was hoped that once lines are committed to memory, in a theatrical environment, Amelia's vast theatrical experience as an actress may serve as the key to make this workable.  Unfortunately, it was never put to the test.


            The CTC, through Karren Palmer's interest, made arrangements for Amelia to attend, without charge, the dress rehearsals of their productions.


The young, when they are abused and exploited, have the

opportunity to grow up and to eventually confront their

abusers; but so often the exploited elderly, silently,

soon die, their story never told.





Photo of Amelia

Amelia Lewis de Gremli,   2006


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