Santa Cruz County Officials Refuse to Release $10K Impounded from Girlfriend During Investigation of Boyfriend's Suicide
Leslie Lysy tells New Times that the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office is refusing to return about $10,000 it impounded along with the Yukon she and her boyfriend were traveling in when he shot himself in the head with a 9-millimeter Glock.
Photo Credit: Leslie Lysy Fred Carter and Leslie Lysy
That was on April 10, 2011 -- a traumatic incident made worse with how cops have handled it, Lysy and her attorney say.
It's been one year and three months, and Lysy (pronounced lee-see) is still waiting for Santa Cruz County officials to give her back her money.
And, she says, county officials are responsible for ruining her vehicle because they kept it in an impound lot for five months, with the windows rolled up in the scorching heat, allowing her boyfriend's bodily fluids and bits of flesh to bake into the vehicle.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office tells New Times that it isn't up to it to decide when, and if, property is released. It just follows orders from the Santa Cruz County Attorney's Office.
Santa Cruz County Attorney George Silva hasn't responded to our repeated phone calls.
On September 28, 2011, five months after Fred Carter shot himself in the head, Silva authorized release of nearly all of Lysy's property: the 2007 GMC Yukon, a trailer, a laptop, Lysy's purse -- even the gun her boyfriend used to commit suicide.
But, inexplicably, authorities kept about $10K in cash that was in her vehicle.
It's unclear why Santa Cruz County officials took so long to return the vehicle and other belongings to Lysy, who lives in Utah and was just passing through Santa Cruz County with her boyfriend on their way to Mexico. Lysy never was a suspect, and medical examiners almost immediately confirmed the gunshot was self-inflicted.
Lysy, 35, says the Sheriff's Office handed over her boyfriend's laptop and his other belongings to his family, and as far as she knows, his relatives aren't trying to lay claim to the cash in the car.
Why would they? It's her money, she says.
Lysy says county officials wanted an affidavit itemizing her belongings, and she provided them that statement on August 1, 2011. Then, she says, they wanted a "paper trail" to prove the money was hers. She provided them a statement from the bank on August 12, 2011 showing that she cashed several checks and made two different withdrawals from the bank, showing that she had at least the $9,900 in cash during the time of the Mexico trip.
Still, 15 months and the threat of a lawsuit later, Santa Cruz County officials aren't letting go of the money.
Lysy was questioned twice, but police detail in their report that Lysy was not near the vehicle, but instead had run away from it and was flagging down help when they suspect that Carter took his own life. When police arrived on the scene, they found the gun in Carter's hand, his body slumped over, and his finger still on the trigger. And the medical examiner ruled the manner of death a suicide.
A sheriff's detective wrote in his report that on April 12, 2011, two days after Carter's death, he attended the autopsy.
"Dr. [David] Winston proceeded with the process and at the end advised us he did not find anything out of the ordinary or which would make him believe this was more than just a suicide," the detective wrote.
He also noted that he did not "get the impression or suspicion of any foul play which would implicate Leslie."
Lysy met Carter on an online dating site several months before. Carter was living in San Carlos, Mexico, where he worked as a property manager and also fixed up condos and flipped them for a profit. The two were traveling to his home in Mexico to pick up some of his belongings, and Carter was planning to move closer to Lysy's home in Utah.
Along the way, they were arguing over Carter's sending text messages to other women. She says she told him she couldn't marry someone she didn't trust. At the time, she has said, she was lying down in the rear of the vehicle as Carter drove.
Shortly after, Lysy told Carter it was over. He pulled off Interstate 19 and stopped near County Line Road in Amado, a small town in Santa Cruz County.