A woman who has been missing for four years was recently found dead inside a trash bag and stuffed in a manhole at her Colorado home.
According to the Grand Junction Police Department, 82-year-old Sylvia Frens was reported missing on May 29, 2018, by her daughter after trying to get a hold of her mom and brother Richard Vandervelde. According to KKCO, police went to her home and found a foul stench coming from the bedroom as well as a brain stain all over the floor during their initial investigation. However, DNA testing at the time found that it was not blood.
Here is where things take an inneresting turn…
A month after her disappearance, her son then allegedly lied to the authorities about his identity in Missouri when he was pulled over on June 5, 2018 and was subsequently taken into custody for a traffic violation. Very sus! Detectives from the Grand Junction Police Department were notified and immediately traveled to the state to speak with him about Sylvia. During the interview, Richard – who lived with his mom at the time – claimed she had taken off with a friend to California in April and had no other details about where she went and when she planned to come back to Colorado.
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Per KKCO, police also learned that he was using his mom’s debit cards, taking out more than $10,000 from her bank account. However, Richard stated that Sylvia gave him permission to use the cards at the time.
After never discovering whether she established residency or legal identification elsewhere and no social media posts about her leading to any new information, investigators determined that she was most likely dead – but still kept the investigation into her disappearance open.
Years had passed with still no signs of Sylvia. But flash forward to March 2022, police announced on Wednesday that they obtained permission to search the home again after the new homeowners uncovered a trash bag inside a manhole on the property. They soon found remains stuffed into the bag. Using DNA testing, it was confirmed that the body belonged to Sylvia. An autopsy also concluded that she died from blunt force trauma to the head, and the manner of death was ruled as a homicide.
Police tracked down Richard in Pinellas County, Florida, and arrested him on May 19. He has been charged with six felonies, including first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, identity fraud, theft of $5,000 to $20,000, motor vehicle theft, and abuse of a corpse, and crimes against an at-risk adult.
Now that this mystery has been solved, hopefully this will bring some peace to Sylvia’s loved ones. We are keeping them in our thoughts.
[Image via Grand Junction Police Department/Twitter, Mesa County Jail]
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