CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte is rich with redevelopment. If you own a house in Dilworth, your value likely went up a lot, some as much as 30-percent in the last two years alone.
It is an attractive place for developers and investors looking to repurpose smaller, older, rundown properties, perhaps a property like 515 Ideal Way, once owned by 88-year-old Mabel Bobo, who unknowingly let her house slip into foreclosure.
Mabel’s house certainly caught the eye of Adam Getchell and other investors who all made bids for the property in the summer 2012, hoping to buy it at a looming foreclosure auction.
Adam says, “And so in this case, we would have bought the property and probably would have torn down the house and we would have built a 3,000 or 4,000 square foot house here, and would have been able to sell it for at least a 20 to 30-percent profit margin.”
A good deal for sure, and it’s happening all over the Dilworth area.
But Mabel’s house at 515 Ideal Way in Dilworth never got to that foreclosure auction, as public records show that property investor Laura Shields and her company called Home Appeal, acquired Mabel’s Dilworth home.
According to a lawsuit and the mobile notary who was there, the deal was done in Mabel’s room at the nursing home where she lives. Mabel, who doctor’s say has had dementia since 2009, signed over the deed to her house as she lay in her bed without her family or an attorney there to advise her.
Mabel’s children say Shields was uninvited and unwanted, and they say they didn’t know the deal was in progress.
Pat Rader, Mabel’s daughter told the NBC Charlotte I-Team of Shields’ visits, “Which is to come in to someone who is almost 90-years-old and shove a piece of paper in front of them and do it repeatedly until she was so tired of seeing them, she signed it to get rid of them!”
The notary who was there told the I-Team by phone that Mabel answered a series of questions before the deal was signed and that she seemed competent.
In an interview with NBC Charlotte’s Bill McGinty a few months later, Mabel’s memory seemed to go in and out. One minute she didn’t remember signing the deed over to Shields, the next she told us she signed the deed to get rid of them.
The NBC Charlotte I-Team approached Laura Shields and asked, “Do you make it routine practice to go into nursing homes an acquire property like that?”
“Do you feel you owe the Bobo family an explanation?”
“How would you feel if someone did this to your mother?”
The Bobo family told the I-Team that Shields said she paid Mabel $5,000 that day in the nursing home, but the money, nor the check, was ever found. In fact, at that time, Mabel didn’t even have a bank account.
Mabel’s daughter Pat says, “I don’t understand how anyone with any kind of morals, character, feelings, could do that to a senior citizen”.
In early 2013, with her family’s help and that of a lawyer, Mabel Bobo filed suit against Laura Shields, and a judge froze the property from future sale until the fight could be resolved.
Laura Shields, who is now signing her name as Laura Schoening on the official paperwork, refused to personally answer our questions then, and once again, declined our offer this month, with her attorney saying they have “reached a settlement and the terms are confidential".
Pat Rader says of the initial deal, “It hurts… (crying pause)… It makes us all angry.”
Schoening told NBC Charlotte, through her series of lawyers over the last year, that she did nothing wrong and the sale of the home was legal.
Although the details of the settlement between Laura Schoening and the Bobos are confidential, the Bobo family told NBC Charlotte in early 2013, at the beginning of this fight, that they wanted the house back or all the profits from a sale and that they wouldn’t settle for anything less. Just this month, public records show Mabel’s house sold for $155,000.