By Elaine Magliaro
Earlier this week, news media reported that police in Plymouth, Minnesota, were investigating a man named David Vanzo “for elderly neglect and financial exploitation of his mother…” Tom Lyden (MyFox9) said, “Detectives wonder if he brought his mother to the bank to make a withdrawal — after she was already dead.”
According to news reports, Vanzo’s mother Caryl died two weeks ago. David Ferguson of Raw Story said that police believe that on the day of her death, Vanzo took his mother’s dead body to the bank in order to withdraw money from her account. Ferguson said that Vanzo then, allegedly, “reported her death to authorities seven hours later.”
According to Tom Lyden, Vanzo has denied the allegation. Vanzo told MyFox9, “My mother and I had an agreement. I took care of my mom for years, I’m the good guy here, not the bad guy.”
Caryl Vanzo died two weeks ago, just days before she turned 91. But when Plymouth police arrived at the home, they were overwhelmed by the stench of urine and feces. They found the woman in bed, wearing a robe and fur coat, her boots covered in feces. Police arrested David for elderly neglect.
“My mother, she wouldn’t eat in the end,” David says.
David did, however, take his mother to the bank that day. They rode there together in a taxi, 7 hours before he reported her dead.
He took out $850 in her name. But bank employees said Caryl’s feet were dragging under her wheelchair. A search warrant citing those employees says she “did not move” and employees “couldn’t tell if she was breathing.”
A neighbor who saw Vanzo and his mother leave in the taxi also wondered if she was dead. The neighbor was quoted as saying, “I don’t know if she was unconscious, or not alive.”
According to the Plymouth police chief, Hennepin County Adult Protection Services made an in-home visit in 2012. At that time, authorities “found Caryl lucid and able-bodied, and she told them she wanted to stay with her son.”
Authorities reportedly investigated David Vanzo on at least two other occasions. Lyden said, “There was a reverse mortgage his mother couldn’t explain to the tune of $118,000, cash withdrawals of $47,500, and another for $25,600.” Vanzo claimed that the money “came from a joint bank account, and that everything he did, he did for his mother.” He maintains that his mother was alive at the time of the $850 cash withdrawal.
Ben Johnson (City Pages) reported that police arrested David Vanzo “on suspicion of neglect.” He noted that Vanzo had not been charged yet. Police wouldn’t release any documents that could shed some light on what happened that day because an investigation is still ongoing.
Jeff Swiatkiewicz, a captain with the Plymouth police department, said, “Ultimately we’re trying to determine if she was alive when she was in that bank by working with the bank, reviewing video surveillance, and working with the medical examiner to really try to narrow down that time of death.”
Swiatkiewicz says the department interviewed neighbors and the cab driver who took the Vanzos to the bank who say Carlyn appeared to be alive when she got into the cab.
So did she die in the cab or at the bank?
“We believe she was deteriorating rapidly throughout the day, so that might be a question that never gets answered,” said Swiatkiewicz.
Swiatkiewicz added, “We’ve done some follow-up over the course of a number of years where there were concerns about his ability to take care of her, but [those concerns] never really panned out…they were never overly cooperative.”