Life took a drastic turn for Bob Queener - and for the loved ones who believed they were doing their best to keep an eye on him daily - when he began to show signs of dementia. Without warning last December, the state removed Queener under police escort from the Des Moines home where he'd lived alone for four decades. He was placed against his will in a locked mental health unit.
For five hours the next day, his panicked relatives knew only that the 79-year-old had disappeared, said his sister Barbara Conrath, 74, of Bondurant.
Three months later, most of Queener's possessions were sold or thrown away by a stranger authorized by the court to control his property, said his brother Rich Queener, 65, of Prescott.
Several of Bob Queener's relatives believe workers with the state Department of Human Services acted too quickly when they sought court approval to have him removed from his home. They're also upset that a judge gave all authority over his life to people who don't know him or love him.
"I mean, my goodness, it wasn't right. It really wasn't," said Conrath, one of his eight living siblings.
DHS spokesman Roger Munns defended the agency's actions as part of an extraordinary effort by government agencies to protect Queener's well-being.
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Elderly Care: When Should the State Step In?