Bestselling true crime author Ann Rule was bilked out of more than $100,000 by two of her sons, one of whom demanded money while she “cowered in her wheelchair,” authorities said.
Michael Rule, 51, has been charged with theft in the first degree and forgery, for allegedly writing himself $103,628 in checks from his mother’s bank account, according to charging documents. Andrew Rule, 54, was accused of coercing his mother into giving him $23,327 and was charged with first-degree theft. Both are free on their own recognizance awaiting trial.
Ann Rule, 84, the author of 30 New York Times bestsellers, has been in declining health since an October 2013 fall that resulted in a broken hip, according to court documents provided to The Huffington Post by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Washington state. She “is on oxygen at all times,” suffers from periods of “extreme confusion” and is “vulnerable to undue influence,” the documents say.
“She is unable to perform many activities of daily living without assistance,” the court documents state.
Her sons began taking advantage of her weakness last year, according to prosecutors.
Authorities were alerted on March 2, when Rule’s son-in-law, Glen Scorr, told the prosecutor’s office he suspected his mother-in-law was being financially exploited by her two sons.
A joint investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Normandy Park Police Department revealed that four of Ann Rule’s children receive an estimated $25,000 monthly salary through her corporation, Rule Enterprises LLC, for “assigned responsibilities.”
Michael Rule, who lives on a property adjoining his mother’s Normandy Park home, allegedly pressured her into providing him with funds above his monthly salary. He forged her signature on checks from March 2014 to February 2015, authorities said.
Michael Rule’s pressure on his mother included verbal abuse, authorities said. He would “yell at his mother demanding money as she cowered in her wheelchair,” the court documents allege. Once, he became so angry that he “screamed at her and threw a cellphone across the room, smashing it to pieces,” according to the documents.
Police said Ann Rule told investigators that “Mike often goes into rages, where he throws things across the room and sweeps a counter clean with his arm.” One of Ann Rule’s caregivers quit because she was “afraid of Mike and his volatile temper,” the documents say.
Andrew Rule also was aggressive in his pursuit of his mother’s money during 2014, authorities said.
“Andy would pester and bully Ann relentlessly for money, sometimes threatening suicide, sometimes trying to make her feel guilty, sometimes screaming obscenities at her, until she would finally give in and write him a check,” the court documents allege.
Ann Rule was granted a protection order against Andrew Rule in January. He was arrested and charged with violating the order on March 27, police said.
While in police custody, Andrew Rule told officers he “has battled drug and gambling addictions for years and that he used the money provided to him by his mother on gambling and strip clubs,” the court documents state.
Ann Rule declined to comment on the allegations against her children. Her books include The Stranger Beside Me, about the serial killer Ted Bundy.
Neither Michael Rule nor Andrew Rule were available for comment on Tuesday. During an interview with KIRO-TV of Seattle, Andrew Rule denied wrongdoing.
“I have never in my life, as God as my witness, stolen anything whatsoever from my mom,” he told the station. “Basically I used to have a gambling problem but I don’t anymore and I have absolutely no idea why I was pulled in at the same time my brother was,” Rule continued.
Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, told HuffPost the brothers are scheduled to be arraigned on April 30.
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