PORTLAND — If Nadine Kirk is still alive somewhere in the world, she will celebrate her 101st birthday this month.
But despite two years of looking by multiple local and federal investigators they haven't been able to find a single trace of her. Now, court records reveal those investigators wonder whether her son has hidden her body, KOIN-TV reported.
Investigators say 62-year-old Ted Kirk and his mother lived together on a piece of property east of Klamath Falls near the town of Bonanza, but according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, she has not been seen since at least June 2015.
The U.S. Attorney for Oregon has now accused Kirk of stealing his mother's Social Security benefits from 2010 through 2015, until people who knew Nadine went to the Klamath County Sheriff's Office concerned they had not seen her "in the past couple of years and was concerned that she might be deceased and that her son might be cashing her Social Security checks."
Kirk told a Klamath County Deputy his mother left for California with a friend in late May or early June of 2015. He claimed he was unable to remember the name of the friend. After searching California for Nadine and the friend, whose name Ted eventually gave them, detectives came up empty handed.
Klamath County Det. Nick Kennedy asked Kirk for permission to search his property with cadaver detection dogs, but he declined. Kirk did agree to provide a DNA sample for the detective.
The financial part of the case ended up in the hands of Special Agent Dale Boring with the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General.
Just before Christmas, Boring interviewed Sean Carroll and Becky Jenkins, who had known Kirk for years. Carroll told Boring that Kirk came to talk to him and Jenkins during the summer of 2015, "freaked out" because the sheriff's office had come to his residence looking for his mother. Kirk said he wanted the couple to help him do some online searches to try to find where she might be.
The federal criminal complaint reveals Carroll told Kirk if he didn't let the sheriff's office search his property for his mother, they would be convinced that he had done something to her. Carroll said he and Jenkins began to suspect Nadine Kirk had died and that Kirk was concealing her death.
Jenkins said the last time she remembered seeing Nadine was in 2010, and she was "Skin and bones. Frail."
Carroll told Boring the Kirk property has 20 or more vehicles, RVs and trailers parked there. According to court documents, Carroll believed Nadine died on the property years ago, and that Kirk used her Social Security to support himself.
"He said that Mr. Kirk is essentially a lazy person and he does not know if he would go to the trouble of trying to bury his mom," the affidavit said. "He said he thinks it is likely that if Nadine died in bed or in a chair, her body is still sitting in the same position that she died in. He said that Mr. Kirk's home smells horrible, and you might not notice much of a difference if a body was decomposing there."
The court documents say Social Security paid $81,360 into the joint bank account of Nadine and Ted Kirk over the five years covered in the criminal complaint. Boring wrote that bank activity contradicts Kirk's statements that he was not financially dependent upon his mother's income.
"The bank records do not show debits or checks payable to any person or vendor that would typically be associated with expenses for an elderly woman, such as hair salon payments or medical payments. These withdrawals are not consistent with Kirk believing that his mother was alive and might be in need of the funds," court documents said.
The agent wrote he was "aware of four Social Security fraud cases in Oregon since 2013 that involved the concealment of the body of the beneficiary for the purposes of continuing to receive the deceased beneficiaries' Social Security benefits. In those cases, a son buried his father underneath their trailer, a caregiver buried an elderly gentleman on her mother's rural property, a son stored his father's body in a chest freezer, and a son dumped his mother's body in a nearby wooded area."
KOIN 6 has attempted to reach Kirk, but a message left on his cellphone has not been returned.
"I know it is unlikely that that a 100 year-old woman with the health issues described in her 2006 medical records, could still be living without medical care, medications, or money," Boring concluded.