By Mike Rush
SULLIVAN, Mo. (KSDK) - It was a grand plan for a dream kitchen from a contractor who seemed just right, until everything went wrong.
"He wasn't a contractor, he was a con-man," said Nancy Schulte.
5 on Your Side literally goes on the run searching for answers and encountering violence.
The road to this drama started with Schulte's desire for a small home improvement.
"I wanted a new countertop and we were referred to Roger Abernathy," said Schulte.
Roger Abernathy owns a company called Main Street Construction. But when he saw Nancy's husband's truck, she says a barter was born and soon the job got bigger.
A complete kitchen redo, including new countertops, cabinets and backsplash in exchange for the truck.
Work started in December, but when the new painted cabinets arrived, Nancy noticed they weren't new at all.
"I was looking at them and discovered holes underneath where we had hung our lighting before," she said. "These were my original cabinets. I was hurt and embarrassed and shocked mad."
But wait, it gets even more weird. Soon after, the Schultes say they confronted Abernathy about those old cabinets, and they say he just hung his head in silence, they discovered that somebody, and their money is on Abernathy, had walked up the stairs in their house to their den, found the contract for the job and altered it.
"Fortunately, we had a copy of the contract elsewhere in the house," said Schulte.
Someone added a prefix to a couple of words, making "furnish and install" look like "re-furnish and re-install."
Abernathy, the Schulte's say, eventually stopped returning phone calls. Now, almost seven months later, their kitchen remains in shambles.
5 on Your Side tracked down other people who say Abernathy cheated them as well. There's a granite supplier, a painter, and an electrician. Each says Abernathy hired them to do work on the Abernathy job and did not pay them everything he owed.
Adam Jones says he and Abernathy were business partners.
5 on Your Side's Mike Rush asked him, "In your four months of worth of work, you should have been paid $10,000 to $15,000. You actually got paid how much?"
Jones: "Um, $500."
Jones says there were other jobs, like the Schultes, Abernathy either didn't finish or dragged on for months.
"Book as many jobs as you can, get as much money as you can, do as little, little bit of work and disappear," said Jones.
Documents show Abernathy's companies do seem to disappear. 5 on Your Side found at least six business names he's used, including his current "Main Street Construction."
On Rush's first trip to Abernathy's High Ridge home, which is also his business address, he met his wife Carla, who appears to be a big part of Roger's business ventures. She's named in some of the numerous lawsuits filed over the years against Roger and is listed as Main Street Construction's chief financial officer on their website.
Carla didn't have much to say to Rush.
"Is that on? I'm not going to talk if that thing's on," she said.
Roger seemed camera shy too. But on the phone he told Rush he hasn't finished the job because the Schultes owe him money, even though the deal was a barter for the truck. He refused to meet with Rush, so Rush kept looking. And found both Carla and Roger picking up a horse trailer in St. Louis County.
Rush: "Hey, Roger. Hey, Mike Rush with Channel 5."
Roger: "I don't have time to talk to you right now."
Rush: "I need to talk to you about the Schultes, and what you've done to them. What can you tell us about that?"
Roger: "Talk to my attorney."
We followed the Abernathys all the way to Union, Mo. where he called the police. Officers, determining we were within the law, didn't stop me from questioning Roger.
Roger: "We're not going to have any comment for you whatsoever."
Rush: "Why is that?"
Carla: "Can't you just leave us alone?"
Rush: "I'll leave you out of this ma'am."
Roger: "We have gave you a verbal response in front of our attorney. You either run that response or we will sue you and your whole news station. I don't care what it takes."
Roger: "This is ridiculous, Mr. Officer, can you get these guys out of our face? Right now!"
Rush: "Or what?"
Roger: "Get them out of our face right... Give me the God **ned microphone."
[Abernathy then snatched Rush's microphone out of his hand]
Carla: "Get the f*** away from me you son of a b****."
[She then shoves Rush]
Roger: "I don't owe anybody money."
Rush: "I've got a whole bunch of people who say you do."
Roger: "They're liars."
One word in an apparent attempt to wash his hands of all these claims and this big mess.
"I was too nice to you," said Schulte. "Shame on you."
Luckily, the Schultes had not turned over the truck to Abernathy because the job was never finished. His work is so shoddy, they say, it will cost at least $11,000 to redo. Abernathy kept telling Rush to talk to his lawyer, and he would have, but Abernathy refused to tell Rush who his lawyer is.