Two ‘persons of interest’ in 2009 disappearance of Placentia millionaire arrested, later released
Investigators citing an ongoing homicide investigation withheld the identities of two Placentia residents who were arrested and later released in connection to the 2009 disappearance of a local millionaire, officials said Tuesday, April 30.
The arrests were made sometime in April, after a decade of investigation into the presumed homicide of Robert “Bob” Harrod, said Placentia Police Sgt. Chris Anderson. He said two people described as persons of interest were recently taken into custody, but later released pending further investigation. Authorities declined to identify them or discuss the circumstances of their arrests.
“Detectives are hesitant to say anything that might jeopardize their investigation,” said Anderson. “They’ve been working on this a long time and have invested a lot into this.”
Harrod was 81 years old and owned millions in assets and property the last time he was seen by relatives on Monday, July 27, 2009.
He was doing work at his house, 522 Carnation Dr., in preparation for the arrival of his second wife, Fontelle Harrod, who had traveled to Missouri to settle her affairs following the couple’s recent marriage at the Fullerton Courthouse a month prior. Harrod’s first wife, Georgia, died in 2008.
The Placentia man was with his son-in-law, Jeff Michaels, who left to pick up supplies at about 2:30 p.m. that afternoon. When he returned to the house about 30 minutes later, Michaels found Harrod’s longtime maid locked out of the home. He let her in, and thought Harrod might have left to visit a neighbor or take a walk when he noticed the millionaire’s keys and wallet missing. Michaels then finished his tasks before returning home to Running Springs, just outside of San Bernardino.
Harrod’s daughter and Michaels’s wife, Julie, tried to call her father to check on him later that night, but received no answer.
She told her sisters, and together they asked Placentia Police to conduct a welfare check at his house. Officers found the home empty. Ten years have passed since then, but authorities have been unable to locate Robert Harrod.
Relatives initially suspected Harrod’s barber of having some involvement with his disappearance. However, police at the time found no evidence linking the barber to the incident. The case is one of the longest-running unsolved homicides in Orange County.
A dispute between Harrod’s daughters and his second wife over Harrod’s estate developed in the weeks after he vanished.
Fontelle Harrod later moved into her missing husband’s home and changed the locks, but his daughters said she had no claim over his assets. However, notes found written in his handwriting indicated that he intended to add his newlywed spouse’s name to various accounts. Public records show that Fontelle Harrod moved out of the home in 2015 and was most recently living in Shawnee, Kansas.
The Placentia Police Department urged anyone with information relevant to the decade-long investigation to come forward. A daughter of Robert Harrod has funded a $50,000 reward available to anyone who submits a tip that leads to the arrest and prosecution of whoever might be responsible for her father’s presumed slaying. Detectives working the case can be reached by dialing 714-993-8146. Information can also be left anonymously by calling Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (847-6227) or visiting http://occrimestoppers.org.