Marie Meader made it known: When her time came, she wanted to be buried, not cremated.
The genial Omaha woman a retired nurse and teacher told her relatives she wanted to be in a cemetery where her loved ones could find her.
She even went to John A. Gentleman Mortuary and chose her casket, picked out flowers for her funeral and planned the services and burial at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery. All she had to do was pay for it.
But Marie Meader never paid the bill. She soon slipped into dementia and, with no capable relatives nearby, a judge appointed Dinah Turrentine-Sims to watch over her.
As guardian and conservator, Turrentine-Sims was supposed to look after matters of Meader's health and wealth.
Those matters included prepaying for Meader's funeral something Meader's nieces repeatedly reminded Turrentine-Sims to do.
In turn, Turrentine-Sims reassured the nieces that she would take care of the mortuary bill.
She did not.
When Marie Meader died last month at age 90, her out-of-state nieces made a grim discovery: There was no money left in Meader's accounts, which once held at least $150,000.
And nothing had been paid to the mortuary.
Meader's nieces had little choice. They could try to pool $10,000 money they didn't have for their aunt's burial. Or they could have her cremated which would cost $2,000.
Marie Meader was cremated. A small group of relatives, most from out of state, celebrated her life at an Omaha church.
There was no burial at Evergreen, no fulfillment of her final wish.
It isn't the only duty Turrentine-Sims is accused of neglecting. Authorities now say more than $400,000 is unaccounted for in the estates of as many as eight wards a dollar amount that investigators say may climb.
Prosecutors have charged her with theft and with abuse of a vulnerable adult in two cases where the losses have totaled more than $250,000. They allege that Turrentine-Sims, 59, spent thousands of her wards' dollars at a Council Bluffs casino.
Her former wards and their families accuse Turrentine-Sims of something worse: stripping their loved ones of their dignity along with their dollars.
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