Real Name: Steven Dearl Cox
Aliases: Steven Cline
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: September 24, 1984
Details: In 1981, sixty-eight-year-old Lorraine Rondeau was newly widowed; her husband had left her $100,000 and it was all that she owned. Lorraine invested her money with a man named Steven Dearl Cox. In 1977, a drunk driver left Michelle Whitt crippled for life; the insurance company gave her $75,000. Michelle also invested this money with Cox. On September 24, 1984, Steven Cox disappeared and has not been seen since. More than two hundred investors have come forward claiming that they had given Cox up to $3.5 million, which he had apparently stolen from them.
Many could not believe that Cox was capable of committing such a crime. He was popular and well-liked through high school and college. He married his college sweetheart Deborah and they settled in Medford. In 1982, he started his own company, S.D. Cox Investments. Authorities believe that, at first, Cox's business was legitimate and that he was actually helping people make money; he even offered investors a rate of return of 25%. However, all he would give them was an "I.O.U." with a form of a promissory note. Michelle Witt needed $1,200 a month for her nursing and medical bills. She felt that Cox's high rate of return was worth the risk. For three years, Michelle received $1,250 monthly payment from Cox. She believed that he knew what he was doing.
Cox's business soon doubled and then tripled; his close friend, Eugene "Bud" Richmond, was brought in as a partner in the business. Richmond's job was to talk with clients and get potential clients to invest in the company. Richmond convinced Lorraine Rondeau to invest her money. Richmond claimed that when customers asked what would happen if the company went bankrupt, he told them that they would lose their money. Lorraine, however, said that Richmond was lying because he had never told her that. He told her that they had money set aside for investors if they needed their money back.
By 1983, S.D. Cox Investments was flourishing; they bought a restaurant, a bar, an arcade, two jewelry stores, and several other expensive items. However, by 1984, many of Cox's investments began to go sour. According to Richmond, some real estate investments were not going well, so they were losing money. Authorities believe that Cox's investment company turned into a Ponzi scheme. In desperation, Richmond went to Lorraine and asked if she could invest her last $5,000. She agreed; however, Richmond claimed that he had never done this.
In September 1984, Cox told Richmond that he and his family were leaving. Richmond agreed to leave with him because he did not want to face the investors. On September 21, 1984, Richmond told his employees that he and Cox would be out of town on business until Monday. That weekend, Cox cleaned out the office safe, taking $200,000 in gold, silver, jewelry, and cash. He also took their financial records, stored on computer disks. The Coxs and Richmond packed up their belongings and fled the Medford area. They planned to go all the way to Hawaii.
In July 1985, ten months after Cox, his wife Deborah, and Richmond vanished, Deborah returned to Medford. Through her attorney, she agreed to cooperate with the authorities. Deborah was never charged in the case. A week later, Richmond also agreed to turn himself in. Richmond did not make any statements that would incriminate himself or Cox. Richmond did tell police that in 1983, Cox had become involved with a mysterious investor. The investor had put nearly $100,000 in the company. He also took out a life insurance policy on Cox as security for his investment. According to Richmond, Cox feared for his life because of this investor. However, authorities think that it is unlikely that the investor would actually hurt Cox.
Eugene Richmond pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and served two years in prison. However, Steven Cox remains at large; he faces charges of fraud and racketeering.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 16, 1988 episode. Cox may have been linked to another con artist that was profiled on Unsolved Mysteries named Dennis Walker. Walker a sports collector from Medford who was found murdered in Las Vegas, Nevada; however, nothing was actually established to link the cases.
Results: Captured. On the night of the broadcast, viewers told authorities that Cox was living in Boise, Idaho, under the alias "Robert Bradley Davis". However, by the next day when authorities arrived, Cox had vanished, leaving a new wife behind.
Five days later, Cox checked into the Lake Meade Lodge hotel, registering under the name "John Strauss" and listing an Arizona address. Hotel manager Edna Reed became suspicious of him because he never left his room and had put incorrect car and license plate information on his hotel registration forms. Two weeks later, Edna noticed "Strauss" taking his garbage and putting into a bin several rooms away from his. She decided to look through his trash and found a note saying that "the Unsolved Mysteries broadcast was a bombshell". Edna and her husband contacted the police; they determined that "Strauss's" car did not belong to him. When authorities arrived at the hotel, however, he had vanished.
The next day, "Strauss" was pulled over in a casino parking lot after an officer spotted him. He gave the officer a driver's license with the name "Robert Davis". A computer check determined that this was an alias for Steven Cox. Cox was immediately placed under arrest. In Cox's car, they found suitcases filled with jewelry, rings, necklaces, baseball cards, coins, and other expensive items. It is believed that these are the items that Cox stole from his investors.
He was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He was released on parole after serving only three years, but he was arrested again in 2005 in Garden City, Idaho on charges of grand theft, forgery, computer crime and a parole violation. Steven Cox was again released from prison in December 2013.
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