Sister convicted of keeping siblings' items in Fayette estate battle
A West Virginia woman was convicted on Thursday of theft for failing to return collectible dolls, baseball cards, knives, jewelry and other items to her brothers and sisters after their mother's death.
A Fayette County jury deliberated for an hour before finding Marlene Wesolowsky, 49, guilty of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds.
“It's been a long, tortuous process,” said Michael Mehall, 41, of Scottdale, one of Wesolowsky's brothers, after the verdict was read before Judge Nancy Vernon. “I think we got justice for Mom and Dad.”
State police Trooper John Marshall filed the charge after Wesolowsky's siblings said the Morgantown woman failed to return the items after their mother died in 2004.
The siblings had stored the items at their mother's home in Hopwood. Wesolowsky was appointed administratix of Rosemary Mehall's estate.
Among the items was Mehall's collection of 300,000 baseball cards, valued at $148,000. Sister Ralene Debord of Wexford said she never received any of her $5,000 worth of dolls, which included porcelain Cabbage Patch dolls.
Brother Ernie Mehall of Hopwood said his Roberto Clemente-autographed baseball and bat are missing.
On Thursday, Wesolowsky testified the baseball cards were not in the house when she became administratix.
“He asked me about his baseball card collection, and I said, ‘Michael, it's not here,' ” Wesolowsky, 49, testified.
“I said, ‘Michael, what do you think I did with them? Took them to the garden and burned them?' ”
Michael Mehall previously told jurors that Wesolowsky threatened in August 2007 to burn the collection, which included a rare, 1952 Topps No. 407 Eddie Mathews Milwaukee Braves card valued at $10,000.
Defense witness Ruth Johnston, 70, of Hopwood testified that before Mehall died, she had Johnston place the baseball card collection in the garage so that Michael Mehall could retrieve it. The boxes stayed there for about two months, Johnston said.
“I was told Michael had got them,” Johnston testified, but jurors were directed to disregard her remark when Wesolowsky's attorney, David Kaiser of Uniontown, objected.
DeBord testified the dolls and other items were in her mother's house when the siblings met there in August 2007. She said Wesolowsky would not allow her to take the dolls that day.
When the siblings returned to the house in November 2007 without Wesolowsky present, DeBord testified, the items were missing.
“It was like the Grinch who stole Christmas,” DeBord testified. “Everything was gone.”
Wesolowsky denied taking any of the items. She testified she divided the dolls between herself and DeBord and turned over knives and coins to an attorney for safekeeping.
She testified she never saw the autographed ball and bat, which Ernie Mehall said he acquired at a Pittsburgh Pirates game he attended when he was 7 with his late father, Frank Mehall Sr.
“I never even knew that existed,” Wesolowsky testified.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Sepic said the monetary value of the items was not as important as their sentimental value.
“What she stole was their childhood memories,” Sepic said.
Sepic said Wesolowsky could have avoided the trial by returning her siblings' belongings.
“The whole object from day one has been to try to get the victims their property back,” Sepic said. “Had she come forward two minutes before we picked a jury and said, ‘I'll give you your stuff back,' we could have worked this out in some way and saved her a felony conviction.
Kaiser declined to comment. Wesolowsky will be sentenced on May 8.
Michael Mehall said he and his siblings realize their sister may spend time in prison.
“Even though she has put us through hell, still, after everything that she has done, she's still our sister,” he said. “It's just she made some horrifically bad decisions, for whatever reason.”
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Operator should have waited after ATV, train collision, Perry Township chief contends
- Troopers plan checkpoints on Fayette County roads
- Repairs on Adelaide Road set to begin
- Hiring of 8 full-time prison guards in Fayette County OK’d
- Merit Manor sewer line still a concern
- Frazier School District mulls $1.5M loan
- Uniontown fugitive wanted in shooting captured
- The Clarks go back to their roots with new album ‘Rewind’
- Fayette County fugitive sighting leads to chase in Morgantown, W.Va.
- Dunbar Twp. man, 82, accused of trying to rape home health aide may get probation
- Father, son offered plea deals in child pornography case in Fayette County