Contractor repays elderly couple for unfinished work after county leaders demand justice

OSBORN, Mo. -- Don’t mess with DeKalb County: That’s what one contractor discovered not long after FOX4 Problem Solvers aired a story about him and the money he took from an elderly couple.

Last August, Problem Solvers met with Leola and Norman Baumgarden who had given Randy Turner $11,500 to start building a garage next to their home in Osborn, Missouri.

After taking the money, Turner never did the work.

“How are (we) going to save that kind of money again?” asked Leola Baumgarden who is in her 70s. “I don't think we are ever going to see the whites of his eyes again.”

After Turner failed to respond to FOX4 Problem Solvers, we suggested the Baumgardens notify the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.

Norman and Leola Baumgarden

It was the best move they made. Chief Deputy Kasey Keesaman said it was obvious that what happened to the Baumgardens was a crime -- not a
civil matter.

“He had done no work for them, something obviously more than a breach of contract,” Keesaman said.

Keesaman and Sheriff Andy Clark take financial crimes seriously in this northwestern Missouri county with a large elderly population. Within a matter of weeks, the sheriff’s office presented the Baumgardens’ case to Prosecutor Erik Tate.

“I think we had more than enough evidence to get probable cause and charges filed on this case,” said Tate who has been in office 10 years.

Turner, through his attorney, agreed to repay the Baumgardens every dollar he owed them to avoid being prosecuted.

“We deposited the check a little over an hour after we got it,” Norman Baumgarden said.

Leola Baumgarden thanked God and Dekalb County for helping get her money back.

“I think it did a world of good,” she said.

Clark said he hopes it sends a message to the next person on the take in his county: If you misbehave here, we’ll track you down.