PANAMA CITY, Florida. – With Hurricane Irma approaching Florida in September, Cynthia Copley, 70, and her 69-year-old man frantically made plans to evacuate. But they had to help with the move of $26,000 in gold bars they had purchased for their retirement. They asked their neighbors to help them in the bars, which were hidden in a litter box, a boat on their property for safekeeping.
The storm did not hit Panama City, where the couple lives in Florida Panhandle. And they thought everything was fine until they found out that their gold was missing about a week later. They called their neighbor, Corey Lofton, who had helped with the move of the golden rods, but he said that he was moved to Jacksonville.
So, they called the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 15. And three months later, Lofton is back in Bay County to face grand theft charges. He was arrested this week in Jacksonville on DUI and violation of probation charges and was returned to Bay County.
Why has the Copleys stash between 15 and 20 gold bars in a litter box?
“We were frantic,” Copley told the News Herald. “We were so worried about the storm. Unfortunately, we are not to think that everyone has the advantage of us.”
She said that she was the litter box on their boat and moved it to a domestic property to the storm.
In a report filed in September, the sheriff’s deputy wrote that he is in contact with Lofton’s mother, who lives next door to the Copleys. They told the researchers that they did not know where her son was, but that he had spontaneously left the city over the weekend to work in Jacksonville.”
Lofton was arrested on a drug charges in May and violated his probation by moving to Jacksonville.
The Copleys invested in gold to help prepare for retirement. She said the sheriff’s investigators have not told her or she recovered from any of the gold.
“We thought it was long gone. We were hopeful, but since that happened in September, is actually a lost cause,” she said. “I just want to see him in prison.”
Lofton has a Feb. 6 court date.
A lawyer for Lofton was not listed on court records.