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Police call Oneida missing persons case 'unusual'

By ANNA MEILER

ONEIDA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Margaret Zavalidroga's son reported her missing four days ago, but it wasn't until Monday he gave police a picture of her.

"We've never had a missing person case where the person who reports a missing person has not been totally cooperative, doesn't do everything they can to help us. This is unusual," said Chief David Meeker of the Oneida City Police Department.

Tom Zavalidroga arrived at his acquaintance John Klish's house Friday morning, asking for help picking up a vehicle he purchased earlier that day. Klish told him to come back later. Zavalidroga left, and police say he reportedly made several stops around Oneida, and then returned to the Klish's later that afternoon to retrieve the recently purchased vehicle.

Police say Margaret signed the papers for that vehicle and that was the last time anyone besides Tom saw her. Tom told police he left his mother waiting in a van outside John's house while they went to pick up the van. He says he planned on leaving for 20 minutes, but didn't return until an hour and a half later.

"As I was pulling in the yard right about here by this tree and he starts screaming, 'My mother's gone and jumps out of the truck even before I had stopped the vehicle and I parked it just a little past where it is now and I'm thinking what's he talking about his mother's gone?" said Klish.

John says Tom never mentioned his mother was in the car. Then the situation got even more tense.

"Then he comes barging in my home, in through my living room, and accuses me of having done something with her while he was gone. Mind you I have never met this woman a day in my life. I wouldn't know her if I fell over her," said John's wife, Nancy Klish.

Police searched the Klish's home and surrounding area and have turned up nothing. Now John and Nancy are wondering if Tom's mother was ever here to start with.

"Nobody's seen her, residents haven't seen her, there's a car dealership across the street. They have salesmen all over the lot, they didn't see anyone walking around or in that area," said Chief Meeker.

John Klish's neighbor, Keith Collins, who witnessed the frantic scene says, "I just hope they find her and she's okay and get this taken care of because I just personally there's just too many things that don't sound right to me."

Margaret is described as five feet tall, 100 pounds and has salt and pepper hair. She was last seen wearing a green sweater, purple pants and brown boots. Tom says his mother doesn't have any health issues or dementia that would cause her to wander off.

Oneida City Police are asking anyone with information to call immediately.

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