LAKE TAPAWINGO, Mo. -- The police chief in Lake Tapawingo is hoping to send a message to a contractor who's disappeared with two homeowner's money. That message is: Don't mess with my town.
Bad contractors are a perpetual problem. Even smart people can get taken advantage of. Police too often consider these cases civil matters.. But not in Lake Tapawingo where the police chief is hoping the prosecutor will help him put this contractor behind bars.
Life in the tiny community was pretty peaceful for Bill and Roxanne young until this summer.
“It was a major shock,” Bill Young said.
Young is talking about his dealings with John Edwards, a man who he hired to build a carport on the front of his home.
“There was no reason for us to have concerns over Mr. Edwards,” Young said.
The Youngs had used him twice before and even considered him a friend. Most recently, they paid him $4,600 upfront for materials. They were also told the carport would be completed in 10 days.. That was in early June.
“I have nothing but a $4,600 check he cashed and took off with.
And then there's neighbor Jean Moore who's out $1,750.
“I feel like we've been taken completely,” Moore said.
She and her husband also hired Edwards last June to extend their driveway. He promised it would be done in a timely manner.
“One excuse after the other why he can't come out and do it,” Moore said.
They said Edwards has claimed to be suffering from everything from cancer to kidney disease, to you name it.
“One time he talked to my husband the heat was bothering him so he couldn't do it,” Moore said.
They said Edwards kept coming up with excuses until they demanded their money back.
“Now he won't answer calls. He has just cut off all contact,” Moore said.
That's when they called Lake Tapawingo Police Chief Jim Ross, who has launched an investigation, and is disturbed by what he's discovering
Mr. Edwards was sued by a retired man with Parkinson ’s disease who also accused Edwards of never doing any work. In fact, Edwards never even bothered to show up in court.. The elderly home owner was awarded $3,384. That was two years ago and Edwards still hasn't paid the judgment.
Plus, Mr. Edwards was supposed to be in court last week for writing a bad check. Chief Ross said enough is enough and wants the Jackson County prosecutor to file criminal charges.
We reached Mr. Edwards by phone, who told us he's been sick, but planned to reimburse both of the families at the end of the week. But the week came and went neither family saw a dime.
Mr. Edwards acknowledged to us Monday that he doesn't have the money to pay back the homeowners, in part because he claims to have already used the money to purchase materials to build the Young's carport.
He said he still plans to reimburse both homeowners although it might take him until December to do it. We plan to check back in December, and if he hasn't repaid them, he'll become the next member of the FOX 4 Problem Solver Hall of Shame.