Thomas Zavalidroga, the son of 83-year-old Margaret Zavalidroga, has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and falsely reporting an incident, according to the Oneida Police.
Margaret Zavalidroga had been missing since Friday before she was found Monday evening in a wooded area near the Lowes in Oneida.
Investigators say Thomas falsely reported his mother missing, when he knew where she was, and that he purposely led her into the wooded area where she was later found, putting her life at risk. Thomas Zavalidroga was booked just after 2am Tuesday morning. His bail is set at $5,000.
Oneida Police say Margaret Zavalidroga was tired, but in good condition when searchers found her Monday afternoon in a wooded area near where she was reported missing on Friday. Her son, Thomas Zavalidroga, told police she disappeared from a van parked on the side of the road while he went to pick up another car but investigators were skeptical of his story. Oneida Police Chief David Meeker noted that Zavalidroga would not provide investigators with pictures of his mother even after he gave them to the media.
"Several things right from the start of the investigation with what he was reporting, what he would and wouldn't tell us, along with some other aspects that sent up red flags," said Meeker.
Police did not give a motive, but they believe he led his mother into the woods and left her there while he reported her missing.
Oneida and State Police are still investigating. Chief Meeker said additional charges are possible. CNY Central spoke with Thomas Zavalidroga on Monday before he was arrested. When a reporter asked him about his lack of cooperation, Zavalidroga said he had nothing to do with his mother's disappearance.
"In the time frame that it took from doing the paperwork to picking the car up, that somehow I personally would have something to do with it is way out, out of sight. Bizarre even," said Zavalidroga.
In a wide ranging interview on Monday morning, Thomas Zavalidroga said he suspected that government agencies were conspiring against him.
"We believe this matter is being colored by prior lawsuits we had against law enforcement. That is a big issue here," said Thomas Zavalidroga
Thomas Zavalidroga is being held in the Madison County Jail. He is due back in Oneida City Court on Friday, July 25th.