One Dexter woman did not expect what fate threw her way after she watched her husband, Edwin Adams, die on Dec. 21 in Mesilla Valley Hospital. That night, Beth Adams became stranded in Cloudcroft at her daughter’s house because of snow. She phoned a family member when she found out that thieves had broken into her home of 21 years.
Beth Adams described her husband’s last month as that of excruciating pain. He died after losing a seven-year battle with cancer. “Then all the memories, the things that held the memories, were gone when I returned,” she said.
Her daughter, Rhonda Napolean, spoke of the losses to her mother: “They did not take the TV, electronics. … They took a beige lock box hidden in a closet full of money and legal documents.”
The money had been set aside to pay for funeral expenses and a trip to take his ashes to Mustang Island, Texas. All together, Rhonda estimates, the thieves stole $10,000.
“It’s a horrible thing to do,” said Rhonda. “My mother had been a social worker for CYFD for 19 years and worked with abused and neglected children, [but] nothing had prepared her for the emotional pain of watching the man she loved be in such pain.”
Together the couple had five children, many grandkids and great-grandchildren. Beth adopted a foster child when he was 16 years old and had no hope of being adopted. “He now has children of his own,”said Rhonda.
The documentation included birth certificates, a marriage license, deeds, titles to vehicles, all needed to smooth the transition of passing, and the money to cover the cost of death and his last wishes.
Rhonda is incensed: “They stole special memories. Each piece of jewelry was a gift to her or a gift from her to him. Someone knew my mom was gone and where to look for the valuables.”
The widow explained the emotional connection to many of the pieces. “They took my engagement ring, my class ring from ENMU, my mother’s ring with stones for each of my five children and his wedding band, coin collections …. my husband had created for his grandchildren.”
The responsibilities of funerals and memorials are doubled, even tripled, complicated by the loss of the documentation required to make arrangements. Beth says it is overwhelming. “He tried to set everything up so there would be no worries. It’s a lot to take in and a lot to do, trying to do one thing and you find you have to do another first.”
She hopes someone will see the paperwork and contact the authorities. Beth does not expect the jewelry and the money returned, but, she said: “It would be amazing if someone would return the paperwork. I would like people to look out for paperwork, or a bunch of rings, coins, and let the Chaves County Sheriff’s office or Crime Stoppers know.”
Beth also agrees with her daughter’s assesment: “This was someone that I knew and knew my husband was dying. I was specifically targeted because they knew where to find these things.”
She grieves that she no longer has the money to fulfill her husband’s last wish. Her daughter has set up a PayPal account, under the name firstname.lastname@example.org to accept donations.
The mother is touched, not only for her daughter’s thoughtfulness, but by the responses she has received: “One girl sent $8 and she wrote, ‘I’m sorry this is not much, but what happened to you was not right. …’ and she hoped others would help. It helps you remember that there are nice people in the world.”
Chaves County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Britt Snyder said, “It’s a sad situation. People are too trusting. … It’s sad after you lose your husband when people come along and steal things of great sentimental value.”
He concurs that this theft was most likely done by someone who knew Beth. Speaking about the thieves, he said, “There’s no explanation about how people can be so pathetic.”
Snyder recommends valuables, especially papers, be put in a safety deposit box. “People need to take precautions. You never know when you may have a fire.
“For many years we have found it is far too common for burglars to spend a large amount of time searching through every drawer until they find everything of value. That’s something an alarm system would prevent. It can’t stop people from breaking in, but it limits the amount of time they can spend. We also tell people who are going away to contact us and we can put the house on close patrol if we know they are going to be gone.”
Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact the CCSO at 624-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 888-594-8477.
Beth urges people watch out for their neighbors. “If you hear noises, contact the authorities. Get to know your neighbors and watch out for your neighbors. Watch out for each other.”
Snyder also agrees, “A good, nosey neighbor is worth their weight in gold.”