PARKER CITY, Ind. – A family is pushing for answers after they say a contractor took thousands of dollars and ran off, without doing the job he promised.
Joeal Webster and his fiancé, Jade, wanted to tear down their raised deck and install a yard-level patio instead. Because they have a special needs child, they needed something that the 5-year old could navigate easily.
“The deck was starting to get a little weak for his wheelchair and stuff, so we needed to make it all one level and then have a handi-capable ramp coming off the front of it,” Webster explained.
Brantley, 5, has hydrocephalus. He has swelling around his brain.
“He has a lot of disabilities,” Webster said. “He has had hand surgery. His one eye is dead, it won’t open or anything. He is on a g-tube, we don’t feed anything though the mouth. He’s on a lot of medicines. We actually have a nurse here, so that was another reason we wanted this. We wanted it easier for them.”
Webster says Brantley loves to be outside. It was important for them to have a patio, especially amid the pandemic when they were quarantined at home.
In August, Webster got estimates from several different contractors. He felt confident in a company called “My Handyman, LLC,” and said he hired Jacob Morris-Jackson to do the job. The project cost $5,000 total.
Webster said he paid half the amount upfront. According to the contract, Morris-Jackson was supposed to start right after Labor Day. He had estimated the job would take two weeks to complete.
“And this is what’s left over,” Webster showed CBS4 in November. “We made a very bad decision.”
In Webster’s backyard, there was a pile of old wood and a live electrical line laying on the ground. Webster said Morris-Jackson was over at their house a couple of times, but would only show up for about an hour at a time.
“He was making excuses the whole time,” Webster said.
Webster told CBS4 that Morris-Jackson kept tacking on new things to the project, which cost more money.
One day, after Webster did a bunch of work himself to level out the area near his back door, Morris-Jackson didn’t show up at all.
“At 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, he texted me and he admitted he took my money. He spent it. He doesn’t have the wood, after telling us he had some of the wood. He doesn’t have the wood. He doesn’t have any of the money,” Webster said, frustrated.
Webster’s mom called the CBS4 Problem Solvers, asking for help. CBS4 tried calling several phone numbers listed for Morris-Jackson, but each line was disconnected.
Morris-Jackson didn’t have an address listed, nor did he have a website for his business. CBS4 reached out to Morris-Jackson via Facebook but didn’t hear back. As of January 2021, it appears someone has removed the “My Handyman, LLC” Facebook page altogether.
“Do your research,” Scott Barnhart, chief counsel for Indiana’s Attorney General’s Office, warned. “Ask a friend, ask neighbors, ask coworkers who they have used and who they have been pleased with or not pleased with in the past.”
Barnhart confirmed his office receives hundreds of complaints about contractors every year.
“Ask them important questions like whether they’re bonded, whether they’re insured and whether they’re licensed,” he went on.
CBS4 found out that Morris-Jackson was never licensed in Randolph County, meaning had the county found out about his work at the Webster home, they likely would have suspended it.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department is now investigating the case as a possible theft. The sheriff confirmed he would be turning Joeal Webster’s case over to the prosecutor’s office by the new year, but warned it could take a while for the case to make it through the court.
“Right now, were kind of at a loss,” Webster said. “The main thing we want to do is make sure he’s not going to do this to anybody else.”
Jade was more emotional about speaking about the incomplete project.
“He knew how important the job was. He knew who it was for and the purpose. That was our special-needs child that he ultimately stole from,” she said.