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Man Suspected of Bilking Val Verde Widow of $300,000

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former transient who married an 80-year-old woman at a Las Vegas drive-through chapel shortly after she was widowed has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling about $300,000 from her, authorities said.

Timothy Watkins, 53, was arrested on Sunday and was being held on $400,000 bail. His son and daughter-in-law--Loren, 28, and Christina Watkins, 26--were also arrested.

Loren and Christina Watkins were arraigned in San Fernando Municipal Court on Friday. Both pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Campbell.

Timothy Watkins has not yet been arraigned because he is being treated for a heart ailment at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, and is being held under guard, authorities said.

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Neither the Watkinses nor their legal representatives could be reached for comment Monday.

The mental health of the widow, Mary Cartwright, was diminishing when she married Watkins in July 1996, Campbell said. Watkins had been living on her property since fall of 1995, when he began doing contract work on the property she shared with her then-husband, Alfred Charles “A.C.” Cartwright, Campbell said.

In March 1996, A.C. Cartwright succumbed to cancer. Four months later his widow and Watkins were married, Campbell said. Loren and Christina Watkins were their witnesses.

After the marriage, Watkins transferred Cartwright’s property, worth about $250,000, to his son and daughter-in-law, who moved onto the property, Campbell said.

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Loren and Christina Watkins took out a $121,000 loan on the property and used it to purchase a BMW and a Chevrolet truck. The rest they put into their construction business, he said.

“We couldn’t believe what was happening,” said Jamie Daniels, Cartwright’s niece, in a telephone interview Monday.

Daniels said she and her family tried to tell Cartwright that Watkins was misrepresenting himself. For one thing, they said, although he claimed to be a contractor, the state licensing board had no record under his name. But Cartwright refused to listen. “She was conned by this man, by him giving her affection,” Daniels said. “She believed everything he told her.”

In December, nurses at Newhall Memorialas hospital contacted authorities during Cartwright’s treatment there for heart problems. They had grown concerned, because although Watkins said he was her husband, she didn’t seem to know who he was, Campbell said.

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Campbell said two forensic psychiatrists have examined Cartwright and both concluded she is suffering from dementia, and that her mental condition has been worsening since 1995.

She now resides at a nursing home in Santa Clarita.

The Cartwrights moved to Val Verde in the 1940s or 1950s, according to authorities and a family member, and built the Cartwright Motel. They rented out the property’s cottages until about 10 years ago, Daniels said.


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