STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) – A central Wisconsin couple have been ordered to stand trial on allegations that they cashed Social Security checks of a relative who has been missing for 30 years and is presumed dead.
Ronald Disher, 71, of Amherst Junction, and his 69-year-old wife, Delores, are charged with theft, mail fraud, forgery and using an account without the person’s knowledge. They are accused of cashing $175,000 worth of Social Security checks from her mother, Marie Jost, who would be 100 if still alive.
During a preliminary hearing Friday, Assistant District Attorney Veronica Isherwood told the judge that Ronald Disher admitted to two other inmates that his wife killed Jost and, together, they buried her in Amherst Junction.
Defense attorney Steven Sawyer said the inmates’ statements are not credible and Jost may have given the money to the Dishers.
Investigators have been unable to locate Jost or her son, Theodore.
Earlier this month, cadaver dogs picked up spots of interest at the Jost home. Portage County sheriff’s Captain Dale O’Kray said several small bone fragments have been sent the Madison crime lab for testing to determine if they are human.
Homicide charges have not been filed. A message left for Isherwood on Saturday seeking further details on the case was not immediately returned.
The Social Security Administration had sent three letters to the Jost home to verify she was still alive. After the third letter was sent, a man who identified himself as her son called to say Jost wasn’t available.
The agency then contacted Portage County authorities last month, asking that deputies check on her. Deputies went to her property where Charles Jost, 66, told them that Marie Jost and his 74-year-old brother, Theodore, “were riding in a vehicle someplace,” according to the criminal complaint.
When a deputy asked for permission to search the property, Charles Jost allegedly grew agitated and asked them to leave. The deputy then asked whether Marie Jost was still alive, and Charles Jost said he would talk to his lawyer and ended the conversation, the complaint said.
Charles Jost is also charged in the case and is undergoing a competency exam to see if he’s mentally fit to stand trial. His competency hearing is set for Oct. 15.