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Police Charge L.A. Women in Mail Fraud

May 23, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The ties between two elderly women and a homeless man killed in a hit-and-run were strong enough to raise police suspicions five years ago, but it took a second death with eerie similarities for police to make arrests.

Helen Golay, 75, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 73, were charged last week with eight counts of federal mail fraud for collecting more than $2 million from policies they held on the two homeless men, Paul Vados and Kenneth McDavid.

A Hollywood homicide detective had flown to Northern California in early 2000 to interview relatives of Vados, whose body was found in a Hollywood alley in 1999, and show them photographs of then-suspects Golay and Rutterschmidt, police said.

``If they came all the way up to Northern California, they were definitely serious about it,″ said Randy Hansen, longtime boyfriend of Vados’ daughter, Stella Vados. ``But they didn’t have enough stuff.″

Despite their suspicions, investigators were never able to find enough evidence to charge the women until Thursday, police Lt. Paul Vernon said. Police said they are still trying determine whether Golay and Rutterschmidt were directly involved in the deaths or other unresolved accidents.

Hansen said he told the detectives in 2000 that he didn’t know the women, even though, according to an FBI affidavit, they had said they were Vados’ only living relatives when they claimed his body from the coroner’s office.

Hansen, who owns a thrift store in Grass Valley, said police told him they suspected Vados’ Social Security checks had been sent to a home in Santa Monica owned by Golay for at least three years.

After learning Golay and Rutterschmidt claimed Vados’ body and had it buried without a headstone, Hansen said, he and Stella Vados negotiated with the women to have the body moved to a family plot.

Hansen said Los Angeles detectives also traveled to Washington state in 2000 to interview Vados’ son, Paul Vados Jr., who was incarcerated there at the time.

Hansen said he was contacted by detectives again eight months ago and was told they were investigating Golay and Rutterschmidt in connection with McDavid’s death. McDavid was found dead in an alley off Westwood Boulevard in June 2005. Each death occurred shortly after a two-year waiting period for the women to collect on the policies had expired.

The women have been jailed pending a June 5 arraignment. Kecia Golay has said her mother was not a part of any such scheme.

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