Son collected dead father’s funds as body decomposed for years, officials say

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A man who died last month in Jackson, Calif., is suspected of leaving his father’s body in a chair in their home in the Sierra Nevada foothills for years after the older man’s death in order to access his funds, authorities said.

Randall Freer, 63, died July 13 after he was exiting a business in Jackson in Amador County and experienced an undisclosed medical condition, according to Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Greg Stark.

To conduct a next-of-kin notification, a Calaveras County sheriff’s deputy arrived at about 10 a.m. on July 13 at a residence in the 9000 block of Camanche Parkway in Wallace, Stark said. The deputy thought no one was home but heard a noise that he believed to be a running fan.

The deputy peered through the window and saw a deceased person sitting in a recliner, Stark said. He alerted the detective division to come help investigate.

Evidence suggested the man had been there for more than three years due to the level of decomposition of the body, according to Stark.

“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 man inside the Wallace home as Ada Clinton Freer, 91, and Randall Freer’s father. There were no signs of foul play; the cause and manner of death are undetermined due to natural causes.

Raggio said he had conducted his own investigation and went to a bank, confirming that the last time Ada Clinton Freer signed a check was in 2016. However, Randall Freer was on his father’s account and was collecting funds until his own death last month.

“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 collecting Social Security and retirement.”

Stark said he couldn’t confirm the details, citing the ongoing investigation.

Since the father’s date of death was listed as the date when he was found, Raggio said that the funds wouldn’t be recovered, unless the family decides to hire an attorney on their own.

Raggio said that Ada Clinton Freer was found unclothed and that the Sheriff’s Office had been called out there previously to conduct welfare checks before his death.

The coroner’s office has gotten in contact with one of Ada Clinton Freer’s nephews in San Andreas to take over the estate.

Because the body had been sitting there for so long, there was no pungent odor and the skin had taken on a “leathery” appearance, Raggio said.

“It had been so long that everything was dried out,” Raggio said. “He had been there for years and years and years. If the son was still alive, the guy would still be sitting there, basically.”

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