He allegedly abandoned his mom, 86, and drained her account

A case in Lynnwood highlights how vulnerable adults can be targeted for financial exploitation.

LYNNWOOD — Mom’s money was gone, and no one has seen Dad.

Their only child has a warrant for his arrest.

Two years later, Lynnwood police are still trying to find him.

The state’s Adult Protective Services contacted detectives in August 2016 about a woman in her 80s. She was living with advanced dementia in a local senior home, while her money apparently was being used for gas, movie rentals and a gym membership.

Her son, Mark M. Peters, signed the admission paperwork in August 2014, records show. Only one payment was made for her care, in January 2015.

By April 2016, her account at the home was short $55,000, and no one had visited her during that time.

Additional funds, including Social Security payments, appear to have been diverted from her and her husband, who is Peters’ father. The father hasn’t been seen in years, and is considered a missing person.

The son, now 58, is charged in Snohomish County with first-degree theft, a felony. He’s been on the lam since skipping out on court this past November.

Adult Protective Services is part of the state Department of Social and Health Services. Financial exploitation is the most common type of adult abuse, according to the agency. The state conducted 10,713 investigations of that type in 2017, nearly double the number from 2012. A spokesman declined to discuss the Lynnwood case, citing privacy laws.

The mother’s Social Security payments were $600 a month. The state determined the money was being routed to a Seattle-area bank account.

Lynnwood detective Robert DeGabriele specializes in property crime cases.

Peters was interviewed by state investigators in June 2016, when he surrendered his mother’s debit card. DeGabriele listened to the recording.

Peters’ mother lived in Hawaii before moving to Lynnwood. Her son told Adult Protective Services the move was prompted by calls about her mental state.

In the interview, he spoke about his father in the past tense, but said he wasn’t sure how, when or where the man had died, DeGabriele said. The state couldn’t find a death certificate on record.

But Washington didn’t have jurisdiction: There is no indication the father ever lived here.

There were payments into a bank account, which was apparently managed by Peters’ wife, that appear to be the father’s Social Security income. Bank records indicate that was the source for occasional $1,500 deposits.

The Maui Police Department has a missing person investigation for the father, Myron C. Peters, dating back to June 2016. The department declined to provide additional information for this story.

The son’s wife opened one of the bank accounts in Seattle in May 2014, with an initial deposit of a few thousand dollars and the mother listed as a co-signer. Most of that was gone in a day or two, DeGabriele said. At that time, he believes the mother was staying with her son, likely in King County.

In June 2014, money was used for medical care in Bellevue, documents show.

“After that, we start seeing expenditures from this account at Ikea, 7-Eleven, Jiffy Lube, 24 Hour Fitness, a lot of gas stuff, PetSmart … ” DeGabriele said.

That spending wouldn’t be associated with elder care, he said.

By November 2014, the account was overdrawn. At one point, $3,800 showed up but quickly disappeared.

The spending continued for months: Redbox movie rentals, Olive Garden and a chiropractor’s office in Montana — when the mother was living in Lynnwood.

Bank activity indicates that over time, there would have been money for the bills at the senior home, at least enough for payments to reduce the debt, DeGabriele said.

During the police investigation, Peters was believed to be in Montana, living with his wife in their car.

News coverage indicates they had other troubles.

In July 2016, the couple apparently spent three days in the woods without food and water, according to a story in The Western News. The local sheriff told the newspaper that drugs were a suspected factor. At the time, Peters also had an arrest warrant in a check fraud case.

Peters has claimed to have power of attorney for his mother, but also said it was revoked. There is no proof of any of that, DeGabriele said.

Peters also said that he and his mother had an “arrangement” from years earlier for him to access her Social Security. He claimed he had loaned his mother $400,000 in cash a long time ago.

He said he hadn’t had a job in at least a decade, but he funded the loans with his earnings from a 1970s stint in motocross.

He was asked about his father’s Social Security.

Peters said he thought the surviving spouse, his mother, was entitled to it.

Back in Lynnwood, the senior home could not reach him. The medical insurance paperwork he had filled out for his mother was incomplete, making it difficult to arrange her appointments.

This past October, Snohomish County prosecutors filed the theft charge against Peters. They declined to seek charges for his wife.

Peters failed to appear for his arraignment in November, and the judge issued a warrant. If Peters is arrested in another state, arrangements are supposed to be in place to bring him back here, DeGabriele said.

The mother, now 86, has been moved to another location. Her affairs are being overseen by a court-appointed guardian. There is no indication that her son has access to her accounts.

Lynnwood police often look into allegations of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults of all ages, DeGabriele said. Some are substantiated, while others are not. He advises their families to get their legal and financial affairs in order. Too often when loved ones realize that it’s time to do so, it’s too late, he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

Report abuse

Anyone who suspects abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult is encouraged to make a report at www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/reportadultabuse or call 866-ENDHARM (866-363-4276). Reports are confidential.

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