Son collected dead father’s funds as body decomposed for years, officials say
Calaveras County authorities say a man left his late father’s body in a chair in their home in the Sierra Nevada foothills for years in order to access his funds, until he too died last month.
Randall Freer, 63, died July 13 after he was leaving a business in Jackson, Calif., in Amador County and experienced an undisclosed medical condition, according to Calaveras County Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Stark.
To notify relatives of the son’s death, a sheriff’s deputy arrived at about 10 a.m. on July 13 at the residence, in the 9000 block of Camanche Parkway in Wallace, Stark said. The deputy initially thought no one was home but heard a noise that he believed to be a fan.
Stark said the deputy peered through the window and saw a deceased person — later identified as Randall Freer’s father, Ada Clinton Freer, 91 — sitting in a recliner. The deputy alerted the detective division to come help investigate.
Park rangers said skeletal remains were found around 8 p.m. Monday at the lake’s Swim Beach area.
The level of decomposition of the body suggested it had been there for more than three years, Stark said.
“It was severely decomposed with partial skeletal remains,” he said. “In my 28 years of law enforcement, this type of investigation is extremely rare. We don’t typically find someone who has been dead for so long inside a residence.”
Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio identified the body as Randall Freer’s father. There were no signs of foul play, but the cause and manner of death could not be determined because of the condition of the remains.
Raggio said he had conducted his own investigation and went to a bank, confirming that the last time Ada Freer signed a check was in 2016, but that Randall Freer was on his father’s account and had been collecting funds until his own death last month.
Firefighters found a body hanging from a tree in Griffith Park. Police are investigating.
“The son assumed the dad’s identity, and I suspect that he was probably living with his dad and living off his father,” Raggio said. “When his father died, he discovered him and just left him sitting in the chair in the home and kept using his funds for his own purposes. In order to use the money, he couldn’t say that the dad passed away, so he was [also] collecting Social Security and retirement.”
Stark said he couldn’t confirm the details of the coroner’s account, citing the ongoing investigation.
Since the father’s date of death was listed as the date when he was found, Raggio said the funds wouldn’t be recovered, unless other family members hire an attorney on their own.
Raggio said the coroner’s office has contacted one of Ada Clinton Freer’s nephews in San Andreas to take over the estate.
“If the son was still alive, the guy would still be sitting there, basically,” the coroner said.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.