A Grand Junction man has been arrested in connection with the death of his mother in 2018 and has been charged with first-degree murder.

Four-Year Investigation Leads To Murder Charges

After a nearly four-year investigation, 54-year-old Richard Vandervelde of Grand Junction has been charged with the murder of his mother, Sylvia Frens. Vandervelde was a person of interest back in 2018, but it wasn't until March of this year when police scored a major breakthrough in the case which led to the arrest.

Search of Residence Uncovers Human Remains

According to the Grand Junction Police Department, detectives had reached out to the current occupants of Sylvia Frens' former residence to do another search of the property. During the search, human remains were located on the property and DNA testing confirmed them to be that of Sylvia Frens. The manner of death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy determined her injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma to the head.

Grand Junction Police Department
Grand Junction Police Department

Finger of Suspicion Points To Son

During the investigation, detectives found evidence that Sylvia's son, Richard, who was living with his mother at the time of her disappearance, had been using her debit card, was in possession of her car, and had taken over $10,000 cash from her bank account. In 2018, Vandervelde told police his mother had left with a friend for California. Police were unable to find any evidence that Sylvia had relocated to another state and determined that she was, in fact, deceased.

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Arrest Warrant Issued For Grand Junction Man

Vandervelde was arrested in Pinellas County, Florida, and extradited to Mesa County where he is facing numerous charges.

  • Murder in the First Degree
  • Tampering With a Deceased Human Body
  • Crimes Against At-Risk Adult
  • Fraud-Identity Theft
  • Theft $5,000-$20,000
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Abuse of a Corpse

Vandervelde was remanded to the Mesa County Detention Facility to wait for arraignment.

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