MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Bartlett man, 22, stole nearly $500,000 from his girlfriend's grandmother over the course of four months, according to Shelby County deputies.
Lou Goodwin, 82, now relives every moment of the last year, as she remodeled her home, mourned her late husband and welcomed her granddaughter's boyfriend Brandon Raley in to her family's life.
“He sat right behind me at the funeral," she said of the service for her late husband last July. "He started to go to church with us. Sat right behind me at church. I gave him a bible at Christmas."
She says she’d heard Raley had a drug problem, but she looked out for him because she also knew he had a tough upbringing. So she welcomed him into her home and he offered to help with renovations.
“He’d be painting and have to go in the garage to get the paint," Goodwin said.
That’s how she said Raley figured out how to steal her life savings over a period of time between December and April.
Goodwin had always used a combination lock to access the safe. She said her late husband never told her about a key, but Raley somehow found one and took cash and valuable coins , including gold Krugerrands worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“I don’t know how many Krugerrands my husband had bought over the years. They were all gone, 200 of them," she said. "It would be somewhere around $500,000."
Goodwin says she went to get money to pay her taxes Monday and that’s when she realized the safe was empty. She called the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and they used a website to find records of Raley taking the gold to pawn shops..
WREG went to the suspect's Bartlett home and a woman identifying herself as his sister answered the door. We asked her about her brother and whether he’d do this. She did not want to comment.
Raley told deputies a homeless friend asked him to sell the gold because the friend didn’t have identification.
Goodwin called that an excuse.
"He spent Christmas with us. I never dreamed he’d do that to me. But I don’t think you can trust anyone," she said.
She had no idea how she’d pay her taxes now, but somehow, God will take care of her.