Orphaned girls grandmother was a millionaire

FRESNO, Calif.

"It's unusual to find a woman and two children and no one else in the family." Hadden said.

But we've learned Sherry Spry had a family. She grew up in Auberry as Sherry Cozby. Her mother Linda Cozby made news in 2002 when she won $2.6 million at the Mono Wind Casino.

Her mother passed away five years ago, and two years later, court documents show Sherry and her stepfather Allen Cozby, who'd raised her since she was 5, were in court. Spry had accused Cozby of domestic abuse. The charges were subsequently dismissed.

The documents tell of a relationship strained by Sherry's alleged drug abuse. It all fell apart when Cozby told Sherry he was no longer paying her rent. She and her two children were subsequently evicted from their home.

While Cozby provided pictures to the court showing him playing with the girls, giving them "horsey rides" and looking liked a doting grandfather, he told us, from his home in Auberry that he wants nothing to do with the girls. He says he cut Sherry out of his life because he claims she and her friend "Renegade" threatened to kill him if he didn't give them money. The girls remain in foster care, while the search for real family continues.

Authorities believe the girl's father, is a man from Central America. He is believed to have passed away 4 or 5 years ago. As to the casino winnings, Cozby says Sherry was cut out of her mother's will. He remarried shortly after Linda Cozby's death.

In court documents filed three years ago in the domestic violence case, Cozby claimed to have set up a college trust fund for the two girls, but he told us on Thursday that he cancelled that and says at 75 he's too old to care for them. He's not a blood or legal relative of the girls. He says foster care would be better than the life their mother gave them.

Child protective services can't talk about this case but Director Cathy Huerta says the ideal situation in a case like this would be to find an adoptive home for the children.

Funeral arrangements for Sherry Spry are still pending. Coroner David Hadden says it appears likely her body will be cremated and her remains buried in the county cemetery.

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