Cops Follow Money Trail in Mystery Death of Colorado Real Estate Broker

USFWS via Wikimedia Commons

A Colorado couple accused of stealing more than $2 million worth of real estate from a local man, then possibly planning to flee to non-extradition countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, or the African archipelago of Cape Verde, have been named as suspects in his mysterious death.

Earlier this month, police in Longmont, Colorado arrested Savuth Yin, 26, and Yulisa Yin, 24, who are accused of forging deeds to illegally transfer ownership of multiple properties owned by 77-year-old Fred Oelke, a real estate broker whose body was found on Sept. 15 and identified publicly by authorities on Wednesday.

Although cops have not yet revealed any information about the cause and manner of Oelke’s demise, or whether they believe there was foul play involved, bond motions filed in court by the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office and cited by local outlets state that both Yins are suspects “in a death investigation surrounding the suspicious death and attempted cover-up of the death of Fred Oelke.”

According to a Nov. 12 arrest affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast, the bizarre series of events began Sept. 14, when a funeral home in Longmont “received several emails and phone calls from someone suggesting they were related or connected to a male who had died in his home.”

The person was insistent that the funeral home “immediately cremate him,” and offered to pay extra for expedited service. Suspicious, the funeral home called police the next day. When cops arrived at Oelke’s residence, they found him dead.

“Fred lives alone therefore it is unknown who was aware Fred was deceased inside and why the person(s) did not call police directly,” the affidavit states.

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On Oct. 29, a Longmont police investigator interviewed one of Oelke’s tenants, Laurie Lapinski, who said she had received a number of strange phone calls from someone calling himself “Fredrick Hampton.” Hampton told Lapinski that he was handling all of Oelke’s affairs now that he was deceased, and told Lapinski that she was going to have to move out. After Hampton returned her rental deposit by leaving money orders in her mailbox, Lapinski called the Boulder County Recorder’s Office to find out who actually owned the home she was living in, according to the arrest affidavit.

Lapinski was told that numerous quitclaim deeds—that is, property transfers—had been filed for Oelke’s properties by a “Nathaniel Turner,” and were transferred to an LLC. The investigator contacted the rest of Oelke’s tenants, who all had similar stories about being contacted by Hampton and told to vacate the premises. Lapinski did not respond to a request for comment.

A longtime friend of Oelke’s, Thomas Dunn, told police that Oelke owned seven homes in the area, six of which he rented out. Dunn, who spoke at Oelke’s funeral and was named Oelke’s personal representative by the Boulder County Courts after Oelke’s death, said he had been unable to locate any of the keys to Oelke’s properties or any of the leases. Dunn told investigators that he thought someone had broken into Oelke’s home and stolen the items, in addition to the titles for two of Oelke’s cars.

Detectives obtained copies of the quitclaims, which transferred ownership of Oelke’s properties, all worth several hundred thousand dollars, to Savuth Yin for $0. They had the signatures of Oelke and his ex-wife Karen. But Karen Oelke, who did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, told police that she hadn’t signed any quitclaims, and that Oelke had bought out her shares in the properties in 2012, when they divorced. The signatures on the quitclaims weren’t hers or Oelke’s, she said. Furthermore, the affidavit says, the signatures had been verified by notaries who didn’t exist, according to the State of Colorado’s licensing database.

Total loss: $2.875 million.

Police followed the money, and found the LLC that now owned the properties had been set up on Oct. 5, nearly three weeks after Oelke’s remains were discovered. The LLC’s setup fees were paid with a MasterCard issued to Nathaniel Turner, and the entity was linked to a Longmont, Colorado cleaning company owned by Yulisa Yin. Detectives recognized Yin as one of Oelke’s renters, and learned that Yulisa Yin had just received her associate-level real estate broker’s license on Sept. 23.

On Nov. 10, police executed a search warrant at the Yins’ home. The pair refused to speak to investigators, who found paperwork inside the house revealing that the Yins—whose cleaning company received more than $14,000 in PPP loans this year—were being sued civilly by Oelke’s estate, along with several firearms hidden in the couch cushions, a handgun with the serial number filed off, the MasterCard used to establish the LLC, and four notary stamps in the name “Samantha Smith,” one of the nonexistent notaries seen in the phony quitclaim deeds.

Cops also found a notebook on the front table, which contained a raft of disturbing entries, according to the affidavit.

A handwritten checklist indicated the Yins intended to get passports, hire an attorney and settle the lawsuit, pay off debts, sell everything, and “leave in 2-3 months.”

A second page was titled, “Asylum,” and listed Cuba, Brazil, Cape Verde Islands, Venezuela, Ecuador, and “Costa Rica (maybe).” Another column with the heading “No to these places” listed three other South American countries which are not identified in the affidavit.

“Due to these comments, I am concerned Yulisa and Savuth plan to leave the country,” concludes the affidavit, which is signed by Officer Rachael Sloan-Stogsdill.

The Yins were arrested and booked into the Boulder County Jail on Nov. 10. Although the DA asked for their bail to be set at $25,000 and for the duo to be put under electronic home monitoring as they posed an “extreme flight risk,” the judge released them on $500 cash bond each.

New Tenant Killed by Landlord for Complaining About Heating, Cops Say

Oelke’s sister Lynn told The Daily Beast that she and the rest of the family “know nothing more about what happened to my brother then what was reported” in the news, saying that the police have “not given any updates.”

But Thomas Dunn, who recalled Oelke as a “great guy” who enjoyed fast cars and motorcycles, called the terms of the Yins’ release “appalling.”

“Fred was found dead in a [COVID] mask, and he never wore a mask,” Dunn told The Daily Beast, adding that Oelke told another friend right before he died that he was going to meet with some tenants who were behind on their rent. “That’s sort of suspicious right there,” said Dunn, who is wondering no one has been charged with Oelke’s murder.

“When the police first learned about these allegations, they moved quickly and put a lot of hard work into this case,” Shannon Carbone, spokeswoman for the Boulder County DA’s Office told The Daily Beast. “As a result, the District Attorney’s Office filed serious charges regarding the financial crimes. The investigation into the death is ongoing and our team is committed to reaching the right outcome.”

Dunn, who was reluctant to say too much because he doesn’t want to “piss the detectives off,” said Oelke, who drove a Ford Model T roadster in high school and bought a Corvette once he became successful, was well-known around Longmont. A pharmacist by training who grew up on a farm in North Dakota, Oelke started his career in real estate in the 1970s and at one time, employed 30-plus agents, according to Dunn.

“He was an upstanding, top-of-the-line realtor for 40 years,” Dunn said. “He always wore a nice suit, really super, super, super generous, kind guy.”

Some of those suits were later enjoyed by Regan Sample, a neighbor of Oelke’s who also sells real estate. When he was getting started in the business, Oelke was in the twilight of his own career and handed down a portion of his business wardrobe to Sample.

“He and I bonded on building our businesses up in a grassroots way,” Sample told The Daily Beast. “It’s such a sad way for someone’s life to end. This guy who’s done a lot of good in the community, just being left there like that.”

Savuth and Yulisa Yin, who do not have lawyers listed in court records and could not be reached, are scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 3.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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