Missing Los Angeles elderly woman found in Maine shack after being swindled

FAIRFAX DISTRICT, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An elderly Los Angeles woman believed to have died was found abandoned in a rundown shack in Maine after allegedly being swindled by three suspects.

The mystery started in fall 2008 when Sarah Cheiker disappeared at age 89. Some, including her neighbor, assumed she had died, but Cheiker is alive.

She was discovered two years ago living in a rundown dirty cabin in the town of Edgecomb in Maine, where she apparently had been abandoned.

"She didn't know who she was," Cheiker's neighbor, Jim Caccavo said.

He filed a missing person report with Los Angeles police after she suddenly disappeared from her home located on Edinburgh Avenue in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles.

A short time after her disappearance, property records show her house was sold for $712,000. After that, her home was torn down and a new one was built on the lot.

"By that time, I think they were already out of the state with her," Caccavo said. "I heard nothing for the next three or four years."

Investigators have pieced together what they believe occurred, and three people were arrested in Maine in connection. The suspects were identified as twins Barbara Davis and Nicholas Davis and their 21-year-old godson Jonathan Stevens. They were charged with endangering the welfare of a dependent person.

According to Andrew Wright, the prosecutor who handled the case in Maine, the trio simply knocked at random on Cheiker's door one day in 2006 and befriended her. They gained her confidence by helping her and offering her rides to the doctor's office.

Caccavo said he doubted their motivations and warned Cheiker to be careful. The suspects were not related to Cheiker, though they claimed to have known her deceased mother.

Cheiker later disappeared, Caccavo said. The suspects reportedly spent her money as they moved across the country to Maine.

Caccavo said he was amazed to get a call from a FBI agent in 2012 saying Cheiker was alive after being found living in deplorable conditions.

"She was quite angry. She was quite upset," Caccavo said. "She said she had been kidnapped and she did not sign anything, she did not sell her house."

She has since been placed in an assisted living center in Fryeburg, Maine.

The suspects pleaded no contest and received probation, court records say.

Maine authorities said they could not investigate the allegations Cheiker was swindled because it occurred in California. FBI officials would not comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




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