A coroner’s investigation into the next of kin for a deceased homeless man led detectives to discover that $18,000 had been taken from the dead man’s bank account the day after his death.
Gerald Lockhorst, 51, died of natural causes in the 4400 block of Lone Tree Road near Valley Home on Aug. 2. According to investigators, Lockhorst was known to be homeless and had recently moved out of a house to stay in a local barn on the property.
Detective Adam Rodriguez from the Stanislaus County Sheriff Coroner’s Division was assigned to handle the death investigation and located Lockhorst’s sisters in Oregon as his next of kin. As part of death investigations, detectives routinely search for next of kin.
During the contact with the sisters, Detective Rodriguez learned that Lockhorst recently received a check for $20,000 from the probated estate of his late parents.
Detective Rodriguez followed up the investigation with a contact at Lockhorst’s bank with its bank manager to inquire about the account status and activity.
The manager of the unnamed Oakdale bank told Rodriguez that $18,000 was transferred out of the account and was on its way to another account belonging to Warren Green, 80, of Oakdale.
The money transfer was made on Aug. 22, the day after Lockhorst passed.
The transaction was halted by the bank manager and processed the funds back into Lockhorst’s account. The manager identified bank employee Monica Perez, 34, as assisting Green with the transaction.
Green was contacted at his Victory Avenue residence and told investigators he was Lockhorst’s friend, and he didn’t want Lockhorst’s sisters to get the money, so he convinced Perez to make the transfer.
Green told detectives he knew he was not named as a beneficiary to Lockhorst and wasn’t entitled to the money.
During the interview with sheriff’s investigators, Perez admitted to knowing both Green and Lockhorst. Green had informed her that Lockhorst was deceased and she transferred the funds to Green’s account even though Green was not a beneficiary or on the account.
Detectives did not state if Perez benefitted in any way for the illicit transfer of funds.
On Thursday Aug. 28 detectives arrested both Green and Perez for grand theft and conspiracy and booked them at Stanislaus County Jail.
In a press release, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department stated, “Coroner’s detectives frequently have to locate relatives and protect assets belonging to the decedents. Many times it becomes a race to protect their funds or assets that may be used to provide funeral services for the decedent. Frequently friends and relatives run to the bank in an attempt (to) access accounts through ATMs and drain the decedent’s funds before they can be secured, leaving inadequate funds to provide funeral services.”