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Con artists add to woes of grieving family

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POSTED September 23, 2012 8:21 p.m.

SEBASTOPOL  (AP) — Police are searching for a thief and a con artist who ripped off a Northern California family grieving over the death of a son who died last month after drinking a hallucinogenic tea in Peru.

Well-wishers had been donating cash to help the family of Kyle Nolan, an 18-year-old who died during a 10-day spiritual program in the Amazonian jungle, The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported Friday. His family has made two trips to Peru to investigate the mysterious death.

Police in Peru say a shaman confessed to burying the 18-year-old after he ate a hallucinogenic plant.

Clients and friends of Nolan's mother, longtime veterinarian Ingeborg Oswald, contributed about $1,000 at her Blue Sky Veterinary Hospital in Rohnert Park. The donations were kept at the front desk in a tissue box decorated with hearts and the words "Kyle Nolan Memorial Fund."

A receptionist said a toothless woman came into the office Wednesday and chatted for about 40 minutes. The receptionist said when she turned her back to find a brochure, the woman and box were missing.

The day before, a man pretending he was Nolan's brother — a triplet along with a sister — called his grandmother in Los Angeles pleading for $2,100 to bail out of jail. The caller implored the grandmother not to call Oswald, saying he didn't want to upset her further.

She wired the money before discovering the scam.

Police are looking for suspects in both cases.

Nolan went on a spiritual retreat in the Madre de Dios jungle region, about 530 miles east of Lima on Aug. 17.

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