Details of Disappearance
Marie and her son, Theodore Jost, were last seen in Portage County, Wisconsin sometime in 1982. Marie owned a three-acre property in the 3600 block of Alm Road in Amherst, and she and Theodore were both listed as living there in 1982. Their disappearances were not reported for over thirty years.
On August 30, 2012, the Social Security Administration asked the Portage County Sheriff's Department to help them find Marie, because their attempts to contact her had come to nothing.
Her Social Security checks were still being cashed, but she hadn't used her Medicare benefits since 1980, when she had a stroke. Theodore is now old enough to become eligible for Social Security, but he never applied for benefits and doesn't have a valid driver's license either.
When police went to Marie's home, they spoke to her son, Charles T. "Butch" Jost, who lived there. Charles said his mother was alive and well and traveling with Theodore. He couldn't describe their vehicle and, when the police asked to have a look around the property, Charles refused and demanded that they leave.
It turned out that Theodore hadn't been seen since the early 1980s either, and a neighbor who'd lived near to Marie's home for twenty years didn't recall having ever seen her or Theodore. Someone continued to pay property taxes in Marie's name up until 1990, however, sending the payments from a post office box in Wonder Lake, Illinois.
Investigators questioned Marie's daughter and son-in-law, Ronald Disher and Delores M. Disher, who lived in Almond, Wisconsin. The couple gave inconsistent statements.
Delores at first said she'd seen her mother less than a year before, then claimed she hadn't seen her since 1980, when Marie's daughter Patricia died of cancer and both Marie and Delores were at the funeral. Delores also admitted she hadn't seen her brother Theodore in over ten years.
The Dishers said Marie and Theodore had been traveling around the country in a motor home for thirty years and only kept in touch with Charles. Delores said Charles would send Marie her Social Security checks and she would endorse them with an X (having been unable to write since her 1980 stroke) and then send them back to him to cash.
Another of Marie's daughters, Marie Householder, said she also had not seen her mother since Patricia Jost's funeral in 1980. Householder said she had sent her mother a packet of cards and pictures for her 100th birthday in October 2011 and got a thank-you letter in response, supposedly from Marie. Householder said the writing on the letter didn't resemble her mother's.
When authorities searched Marie's home, they found $9,000 in cash in a fanny pack, as well as some bone fragments. The bones are currently being analyzed to determine whether they're human. $8,000 was located at the Dishers' home, as was a scrapbook with letters dated between 2006 and 2011, signed with Marie's and Theodore's names. The letters often thanked the Dishers for taking care of Marie.
An employee of Citizen's Bank in Amherst, who had known Marie since the 1970s, reported having seen her when Marie came in to talk about signing her checks. The employee said Marie was permitted to sign her checks with an X not because she had had a stroke, but because she was completely illiterate and unable to write her name. The sighting would have been sometime after March 1988, when the employee started work at the bank.
When he was questioned at home about his mother-in-law's disappearance, Ronald threatened an officer with a sharpened file and was arrested. While in custody, he reportedly told other inmates he and Delores had killed Marie. The inmates who reported this knew more about Marie's disappearance than had been released to the public at the time, and police believe their statements.
Investigators stated Charles was a hoarder and described the property as being full of trash and uninhabitable. There was no plumbing and no running water. In December 2012, by order of the health department, a waste disposal company began cleaning up the property and removed nearly 15 tons of garbage.
Photographs of Charles and the Dishers are posted with this case summary. They were charged with theft, mail fraud, forgery, and unauthorized use of an individual's personal document; investigators believe they cashed over $175,000 worth of Marie's Social Security checks over three decades and kept the money for themselves.
Charles, who has only a first-grade education, had to undergo a competency evaluation. He told the evaluator he'd seen Marie as recently as July 2012 and she doesn't want anyone to know where she is because she's afraid of being placed in a nursing home.
Charles was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect; charges against Delores were dismissed because of her medical problems.
Ronald was tried in 2014, and the jury deliberated ten hours but was unable to reach a verdict on the fraud case. They did convict him of endangering safety using a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct; he'd threatened police officers with a letter opener when they questioned him at his home. The judge declared a mistrial on the fraud charges.
Investigators believe Marie's children either murdered her or simply concealed her death in order to keep her benefit checks, but little is known about her disappearance and the circumstances of Theodore's disappearance are even more uncertain. Their cases remain unsolved.