By Kenneth Miller
Larry Davis tried his best to help his stepmother, but distance made it difficult. Davis lived with his wife in Sonoma County, Calif.; Kise (pronounced KEEˇ-say) Davis lived in Las Cruces, N.M., 1,200 miles away. She was struggling with dementia, and Larry, who held power of attorney over her affairs, spoke with her regularly, kept tabs on her via local contacts and visited as often as he could. He was working toward moving her to an assisted living facility near his home.
That began to seem more urgent in the fall of 2016, when Kise, then 85, began complaining that a longtime acquaintance, Larry Franco — a handyman who helped her with household tasks — was stealing from her. But Kise’s illness sometimes made her paranoid; she’d lodged such accusations against friends before. Larry, who was 74, planned to fly out and investigate after the holidays. Then, shortly before Christmas, he came home from a shopping trip to learn that Kise had gone missing.