How Did Missing, Ripped-Off Elderly L.A. Woman Turn Up in Maine Shack 4 Years Later?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Sarah Cheiker (photo: via Associated Press courtesy of Jim Caccavo)

It’s been two and a half years since 89-year-old Sarah Cheiker turned up stranded in a sweltering, remote Maine cabin, four years after disappearing from her home in Los Angeles.

The trio that towed her across country and left her there never did jail time and no one ever definitively figured out how her home in Fairfax District was sold to pay for the three-year odyssey, according to Bob Pool, who spun the tale at the Los Angeles Times over the weekend.

And there are no indications anyone will.

Cheiker lived in a small bungalow by herself for more than 35 years and reportedly had no relatives when she met 41-year-old twins Barbara and Nicholas Davis and their avowed godson, Jonathan Stevens, 21. Maine prosecutor Andrew Wright told Pool they ingratiated themselves after cold-calling her in 2008 with offers of friendship and assistance. 

Shortly thereafter, there was a small fire at the house and Cheiker moved in with the trio. Her belongings were moved out and one day, to the surprise of neighbors who had known her for a long time, the house was torn down and replaced by a much bigger one.

That was the last anyone heard of Cheiker until the FBI showed up in 2011 asking questions. The trio was arrested by Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies on July 12 of that year after people reported that a woman was apparently living on oranges and fast food in a room without a light at the Pine Crest Motor Court in Edgecomb.

The three said Cheiker had voluntarily sold her home and accompanied them on a lengthy road trip to Maine. When they finally arrived on the East Coast, she wanted privacy and simplicity and they accommodated her. No one knew where the house money went but the Davises are said to now own property in California.

The twins each pleaded guilty to one felony charge of elder endangerment and received 3-year suspended sentences. They also got two years probation and Nicholas Davis was ordered to fork over $7,000 in money orders found in their possession. They also had to pay a $25 victim compensation fee.

Stevens pleaded no contest to the same charge. He got a 1-year suspended sentence and a year of probation, and only had to pay a $10 victim compensation fee.

Cheiker was sent to a Maine nursing home and did not testify. Sheriff’s Detective Robert McFetridge told the Lincoln County News at the time that Cheiker was in good health and spirits, and just grateful to be safe and comfortable.

However, a former neighbor who visited her recently told Pool she didn’t sound completely content with how things turned out. “Sarah told me she definitely did not sell her house,” Jim Caccavo said. “She was still angry.”

Maine did not pursue allegations that the accused had swindled Cheiker out of her home and Los Angeles police never got involved beyond the filing of a missing persons report. Cheiker was said to be pursuing civil remedies through an attorney in 2011, but nothing came of that. The FBI had no comment for Pool.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Elderly L.A. Woman Vanishes, Is Found Alone in Maine Four Years Later (by Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times)

Woman, 89, Who Vanished Four Years Ago in LA Is Found in Maine Shack after Being Abandoned by “Friends” Who Stole Her House and Spent Her Fortune (by Kieran Corcoran and Sophie Jane Evans, London Daily Mail)

Three People Accused Of Endangering Elderly Woman Sentenced (by Sherwood Olin, Lincoln County News)

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