by Janet Phelan
The first family pet that my sister Judith killed was my cat, Fritz. My parents had been caring for both of my cats, Fritz and Colette, while I was away at grad school. I had returned but had not yet settled into permanent digs. Judy had been residing with my parents in the Naples Island family home for some time at that juncture.
Judy had experienced a complete breakdown, of sorts, and her then-husband, Neil, had simply dropped her off at Mom and Dad's—dropped her off and washed his hands of her. It had not been a happy union and Neil was apparently all too glad to use this as an excuse to escape.
Judith had decompensated rather quickly. Usually impeccably and fashionably dressed and groomed, she began to appear in mismatched clothing and with uncombed hair. Her weight, always a concern for her, shot up dramatically. An odor emanated from her room and I doubted she was even bathing. Even worse--she had stopped making sense.
At the point that she killed my cat, she had ostensibly pulled out of it. A toxic dose of medication, which she was taking for a psychiatric problem, was blamed and when the dose was adjusted she seemed to improve. Her former wit and vivacity returned and she began again to dress again like a fashion plate. But something had changed. She seemed to harbor a dark resentment towards the family, blaming us for her plight. Other, less immediately noticeable changes were to manifest soon.
I had stopped by the house to pick up some belongings. My parents were selling the house and had plans to move away. The housing market was booming and they figured to take the money and invest in a cheaper house in a less upscale location, and to commence their retirement. Judith, who had a LCSW, was having trouble holding a job and was moving with them. To her consternation, I was not.
I was picking up some things from what had at one time been my bedroom when Judith walked in. “I put your cat to sleep,” she announced.
It took a moment for her words to register. I felt a cold horror grip my heart, the likes of which I had never before experienced.
“Why did you do that?” I managed to get out.
Her answer confirmed my worst suspicions. She had no reasons. “He was sleeping,” was all she said. Fritz had been with me for about twelve years. I did not realize at that time how this depraved act by my sister pointed towards the future.
Mom, Dad and Judy soon moved to Temecula, in Riverside County.
While Judith was purportedly out of the woods in terms of overt psychosis, her actions brought my father continued bewilderment and anguish. During my frequent visits to the family home on Gatewood Way, I repeatedly saw Judith baiting, confrontational, as her behavior began to border on utter hatred of our father. On a couple of occasions, during what was now an interminable and continuous argument, Judith threw back her head and howled like an animal.
It couldn't have been a happy situation for her—forty plus years old, twice divorced, with considerable academic achievements--to be living with her parents in a sleepy little town like Temecula. She had a new car, she indulged her desires for new clothes, new hairdos, pedicures and more, but nothing was mitigating the indignity she was apparently feeling for needing to live with her parents. She was brilliant, or so she repeatedly asserted. She should be on top of the game, not on the skids. And increasingly, she blamed us for her ill fortune.
One day, she drove up to see me in Long Beach. I had an apartment and was living with my boyfriend. She confessed to me that she “couldn't stand “ living with the folks anymore. She asked if she could move in with me. She was desperate, she said.
Looking at her pale, anguished face, I began to soften. We had never gotten along, but maybe we could make it work. I didn't want to see her suffer. And for a moment, I almost forgot what she had done to Fritz.
She must have seen the sympathy in my face, and moved quickly into the driver's seat. “Good,” she said. “I'll go get my stuff. We are going to have to first of all develop some ground rules here. Rule one—No men.”
“Judy,” I said. “You know I am living here with John. I am not going to separate from him so that you can live here. I am sorry, this isn't going to work out.”
Dad was feeling the pressure, too. He used to come up to Long Beach once a month, to lunch with his fellow journalists, an aging crew of salty reporters who called themselves “The Over-The-Hill” Club. After their luncheon, he would typically drop by my apartment for a visit. Sometimes he would take a nap on my couch and I would fix him dinner.
I remember one visit, in which he was distinctly agitated. He was talking, as he often did, about my sister, how difficult she was, and how living with her was destroying his golden years. But this time, he was also talking about the future. And he was worried.
“I am afraid to die and leave your mother alone with your sister,” he stated bluntly. “Judy is capable of anything. I want to put her out," he continued, "but your mother won't allow it."
I puzzled over the implications of his statement. I certainly did not know that after Dad died, my sister Judy was going to try to kill our mother.
I picked up the phone around 4 pm. Dad's lung cancer had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. He wasn't expected to last more than a few days.
I hung up the phone and went to tell John. We started packing, throwing a few things into an overnight bag. I worried a bit about what to do with the cats, Zack and Bunkie. We were just getting ready to head out the door when suddenly I felt like I couldn't breathe. I sat down, gulping for air. The attack subsided in about ten minutes. I then called my Mom, to let her know we were on our way.
“Oh Jannie,” she said, her voice almost inaudible. “Your Dad just passed ten minutes ago.”
After the burial, the small group of mourners headed back to the house. I was devastated. The larger then life , brilliant and iconoclastic man who had been my father was no more. I couldn't have guessed that without him, Judith would begin to prey on both of us—first financially and then with murderous intent.
Judy sat down beside me on the couch. “I'm glad he's dead,” was all she said.
After Dad died, I began to come down to Temecula to visit my mother more and more frequently. We had always been very close and our friendship began to change. She was becoming more vulnerable. Looking back, I am not sure exactly when I started feeling less like her child and more like her protector.
Judith was becoming increasingly secretive. A couple of years later, Mom chose to retire (she had kept up a small private practice as a clinical psychologist) and Judith decided that Amalie shouldn't drive anymore. She got rid of Mom's car. She had herself placed as a joint signor on Mom's bank accounts, as well. Money began to fly away. I did not figure out how until years later, when I was reviewing some family accounts. Judith had been forging my endorsement on checks made out to me. She had apparently been requesting regularly that Mom write me checks, checks I did not request or even know about. She then turned around and forged my endorsement on these checks and deposited them into her Wells Fargo account. The tip off was the cancellation stamp on the back of the checks—they had gone into Wells Fargo. It appears that Judith stole upwards of sixty thousand dollars in this manner in a short time.
Attached are two examples of these checks.
In 2000, Judy had gotten another social work job and lost it very quickly. Mom went into the hospital with a broken hip. Mom's dog was put to sleep. When Mom finally admitted to me, after a couple of years of denial, that there was a struggle over the dog, the day Judy had come home angry from being fired, and that Judy had pushed her and that was when she fell and broke her hip, it was too late for me to get Judy out. Mom was under a conservatorship, and conservator Melodie Scott was treating Judy like the golden girl. Within a week of this shocking admission, I was rushing my mother to the ER. She was nearly dead.
It was my habit to call Amalie every day, sometimes more than once. I had noticed on my visit the week before that she didn't seem to be doing very well. I was worried that she might be sick. So when I called her that morning in June and she said: “I am very ill and no one is paying attention to me,” I hurried down to Temecula.
I found her in a dreadful state. She could hardly walk. She was not making much sense. And Judy was acting like nothing was going on.
It took me over an hour to get her out to the car so I could take her to the hospital. She was so weak she didn't think she could walk to the curb, where my car was parked. She wanted to rest first, because it was too hard to walk a few steps. While Amalie was in her early eighties, she was still quite active. Every visit, we would take long walks around the outskirts of Temecula. She never had had trouble like this.
Once in the car, she forgot where we were going. I was so worried. Something was terribly wrong and I was relieved when we pulled into the parking lot at Rancho Springs hospital.
Her blood pressure was dangerously elevated. Her confusion seemed to be clearing up.I was glad about that but also worried. What had caused the blanket of confusion to descend upon her? Had she been drugged? Worse then drugged? She was admitted to the hospital and shortly thereafter I drove back to Temecula.
Back at the house, I checked my mother's pill bottles. At leat part of the problem became immediately clear. No one had bothered to give my mother, a cardiac patient, her heart medicine for at least six weeks. Judith and Linda Garcia, a caregiver hired by conservator Melodie Scott, were the responsible parties.
I called the police. They arrived and all hell broke out. Linda Garcia fled the house, never to be seen by me again. Melodie Scott called and told the police to lock me up, that I was crazy. Judy went and barricaded herself in her room. The police counted the pills, took my statement and left.
As it turned out, Mom was taken into surgery and a pacemaker was implanted in her chest. Just prior to the surgery, her pulse was recorded at 37. Her heart was failing her.
And within twenty four hours I was served with notice that Scott had gone to court and applied for (and was granted) a Temporary Restraining Order against me. In her declaration to the court, she stated that I had “unnecessarily” transported my mother to the hospital emergency room, thereby causing her emotional distress.
This was going to be easy, or so I thought. I would ask the judge to subpoena the medical records and this would be put to rest. He would then know the truth, that my mother's life was saved by that trip to the ER.
But this is not America anymore. Not the America of equal protection under the law and justice for all. And I was about to get my wake up call.
I went to court on August 8 for the hearing on the Restraining Order. I am documented as being in court when court opened and leaving when court closed. The RO was never called to hearing and I was permanently restrained from my mother without due process, an utter violation of my Constitutional rights.
In addition to the attached letter by Special Agent Jack Smith, the minute order issued by Judge Stephen Cunnison stands as witness to the Constitutional violation. The minute order reveals no parties present when Cunnison signed the order, in the safety and seclusion of his chambers.
Mom was doomed. For a period, Melodie Scott moved her from facility to facility, like a precious gem in a shell game.
With measured cruelty, I was not informed that my mother had died until weeks after she had been buried. Given the history here, I can only believe that foul play was involved and that I was not told she had died because I would have demanded an autopsy and a toxicology exam.
Scott used the RO as an excuse to terminate Trust payments to me. At that time I was on disability and was critically dependent on the trust fund established by my parents. First I lost my car and then I became homeless. I was shortly thereafter divested of most of the disability monies. My weight dropped from 165 lbs to under 100 in the first year after the trust monies were cut off. Staying alive got tougher.
Judith, however, did quite well. She moved up to the Bay area, to Oakland. The source of the monies used to buy my sister's silence and propensities towards murder soon became obvious. Mom had had two checking accounts, one at Washington Mutual and one at B of A as well as a couple of B of A credit cards. While Mom was still at home, in the intervening months between the establishment of the conservatorship and her trip to the ER, Judith had been charging up a storm. When I would come to visit, I noticed that several packages would show up every day, coming in from catalogue companies. Several unopened packages would at the same time be returned by Judy. It appears that these purchases were being charged back to the B of A account and a third party was paying off the purchases. This is notably similar to the judge/loan scam being run by numerous judges in the Southern California area (and likely elsewhere). The initial article exposing this bribery/payoff scheme was published in the San Bernardino County Sentinel in September of 2009.
In this case, we are seeing what constitutes murder for money.
Shortly before Mom nearly died on that June day, Judy nearly confessed to me. “I'm getting a lot of money from Melodie Scott,”she said during one of my visits.
“What's that for, Judy?” I asked.
“Hush money,” she said.
“What the hell for?” I demanded. “Is this about what's happening now?” Melodie Scott had been making our lives very difficult.
“No,” she said. “It's for what is going to happen later.” And then clammed up.
Judy was to become covertly aggressive against me,as well. Shortly thereafter, Judith started to send me checks. She told me that Melodie Scott was selling the house and she wanted me to hire a lawyer to contest this. The $2700 was purportedly for an attorney retainer.
The first check came in without the amount written in. Puzzled by this, I contacted the bank which confirmed that such a check was nonnegotiable. Judy promptly issued a second check. She was so insistent that I only cash it at a particular branch that I became suspicious. I contacted the bank, asking about that check number. Judith, it turns out, had reported the check stolen. I have attached copies of these two checks, slightly tattered by time.
Bye bye mama, then bye bye sister. And Judith would have gotten all the money in the estate.
Melodie Scott came under scrutiny by the California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau and her license was, for a period of time, contested. She finally achieved licensure in late 2010 but by that time my Trust had achieved a new trustee—Riverside County.
After a stint working as a reporter at The American's Bulletin in Oregon I left the US. I was soon offered a job teaching journalism in Canada. The Canadian government denied my work visa and I came to Mexico.
I also filed a lawsuit against Scott. Three judges were consecutively and hastily removed from the case after I researched and reported on their suspicious loan history--Commissioner McCoy, Judge Sharon Waters and Judge Gary Tranbarger. The suit was ultimately dismissed in a hearing which was not legally noticed. Judge Stephen Cunnison came back from retirement to ensure the demise of my suit and in his now emblematic manner, he issued another legally void order. When I discovered that "Hangin' Judge" Cunnison was back on the case, I tried to have him removed. In his response he stated that I should have kicked him off a long while back. Actually, I had tried to back in 2002 but he had refused to step down.
The new trustee has filed an accounting and I requested to see the distributions to Judith. The attorney for the Trustee, Toni Eggebraaten, replied that she would send me copies of the checks, after blacking out the bank cancellation information as well as the name of the payee.
Of course, a check without a bank cancellation cannot be affirmed as even having been negotiated. A check without payee information cannot be conclusively determined as having been sent to that payee, who is in this matter, Judith.
Eggebraaten has also refused to send me the bank statements. In her response to my request for discovery, the Trustee has stated that the bank statements will not be released because she has pooled the Phelan estate with other monies she is handling and to release these records to me would violate other people's privacy. The law strictly prohibits such pooling of separate estates. And as there are peripheral indications in the accountings that other monies, such as for rent, are being given to Judith (but not being accounted for) it would not be legally sound for the Trustee to give me evidence of her own criminal activity.
Fraud marches on, relentlessly. The Trustee is now positioning to shut down my part of the Trust, which is necessary to my continued survival, as I am living abroad without a work visa. Her reasoning for so doing is so far fetched that it can only be seen as further retaliation. And for what? For loving and honoring my mother? For reporting on judges laundering money through their property loans, for reporting on the deadly Section 817 of the Patriot Act and the ongong attacks on others through conservatorship court? Is it such a crime now to be a loving daugher and a diligent reporter?
In Germany in the thirties and forties a number of Jews chose to sell out their own for reasons of personal safety and security. Many such Jews, particularly those in leadership positions, such as much of the rabbinate, were allowed to leave Germany unscathed. Other Jew-rats became capos in the concentration camps, responsible for punishing and inflicting injury on their fellow prisoners in return for privileges, food and life.
I no longer need to imagine the horror of such betrayal. I have experienced it, first-hand.
For a further discussion of Special Agent Jack Smith and the federal involvement in Amalie's death, you are referred to this link: