Donald Russell will never forget where he was on Nov. 24, 2009. He was in Mississippi visiting his son when he got a call from his mother. His mother told him the finance company they entrusted with their life savings had been raided. Russell said the stress of that event sent his mother to an early grave.
When Russell took the witness stand Tuesday, he brought a picture of his mother with him.
Russell testified against embattled financier Tim Durham. Durham is accused of defrauding approximately 5,000 investors of more than $200 million.
Russell said the pain Durham allegedly caused, killed his mother, Pearl.
"I could just see what it had done to her," said Russell. "It just broke my heart because I had suggested this her."
It has been 2.5 years and Russell is still angry. He invested his entire life savings with Fair Financial, and after getting weekly checks, he suggested the firm to his mother who was looking make some extra income.
"I said, 'Mom, they have been in business since 1934, they are as solid as a rock,'" said Russell. "'They are not going anywhere.'"
In all, Donald Russell put $350,000 in Durham's hands. His mother invested $125,000. It was not long after Fair Financial was raided that Pearl Russell's health took a turn for the worse.
"The whole bottom fell out then, when that happened," said Russell. "She went into the hospital the next day, she had worked herself into a state where she was having difficulty breathing. They admitted her into the hospital and 29 days later, she passed."
Russell said the stress of losing everything ended his mother's life early. Russell said Durham should feel a similar pain.
"I just pray they find him guilty, the whole crew," said Russell. "I hope he does not have another breath of freedom. I hope it is always confined."
Russell said he is optimistic he may get at least some of his money back, but he realizes nothing will bring back his mother. Pearl Russell would have been 85 years old this year.
Alleged victim's son takes stand in case against Tim Durham