Saturday, November 4, 2023

Former nurse Heather Pressdee now linked to 17 nursing home deaths

The victims ranged in age from 43 to 104.

By Jon Haworth

A former Pennsylvania nurse who, in May, had been accused of killing two patients with doses of insulin now faces more murder charges and has confessed to trying to kill 19 additional people at several locations, authorities said Thursday.

Heather Pressdee, 41, is accused of administering excessive amounts of insulin to patients in her care, some of whom were diabetic and required insulin, and some of whom were not, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

In total, 17 patients died who had been cared for by Pressdee.

Pressdee has admitted to trying to kill 19 other patients with insulin at five different rehabilitation centers across the state as far back as 2020, and as recently as this year, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said.

"The allegations against Ms. Pressdee are disturbing. It is hard to comprehend how a nurse, trusted to care for her patients, could choose to deliberately and systematically harm them,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry. "The damage done to the victims and their loved ones cannot be overstated. Every person in a medical or care facility should feel safe and cared for, and my office will work tirelessly to hold the defendant accountable for her crimes and protect care-dependent Pennsylvanians from future harm."

PHOTO: Heather Pressdee, 41, is accused of administering excessive amounts of insulin to patients in her care, some of whom were diabetic and required insulin, and some of whom were not, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
Heather Pressdee, 41, is accused of administering excessive amounts of insulin to patients in her care, some of whom were diabetic and required insulin, and some of whom were not, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office

Pressdee was now been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, 17 counts of attempted murder and 19 counts of neglect of a care-dependent person.

"The alleged crimes happened while Pressdee was employed as a registered nurse at the following facilities: Concordia at Rebecca Residence; Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation (Guardian); Quality Life Services Chicora; Premier Armstrong Rehabilitation and Nursing Center; and Sunnyview Rehabilitation and Nursing Center," officials said. "Pressdee typically administered the insulin during overnight shifts when staffing was low and the emergencies would not prompt immediate hospitalization."

The victims ranged in age from 43 to 104.

Pressdee was arraigned on Thursday and waived her preliminary hearing on these charges. She currently remains in custody at Butler County Prison without bail.

Anyone with information about these incidents or Heather Pressdee is asked to contact the Office of Attorney General’s tipline at 888-538-8541.

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Former nurse Heather Pressdee now linked to 17 nursing home deaths

Stanley woman sentenced for financial exploitation

A Stanley woman appeared in North Central District Court on Thursday to plead guilty and be sentenced to supervised probation for exploiting a position of trust in her role as a co-guardian of her elderly father.  

Johnna E. Westby, 60, Stanley, entered her change of plea before Judge Gary Lee, pleading guilty in connection to complaints brought by her family members and investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

According to court documents, the matter related to the estate of the late Myron Johnson of Stanley. Before his death, Johnson’s daughters petitioned the court for an emergency guardianship, which was granted by District Judge Stacy Louser on Nov. 10, 2021. Of his four daughters, two were eventually named co-guardians, Mallory Johnson and Johnna Westby.

Westby was elevated to the position by her sister due to living closer to their father, which made her more available to make financial and business decisions on his behalf.

Westby aroused her sister’s suspicions after wire transferring $40,000 of her father’s money that she said was for the purchase of a truck to pull his boat. It was eventually discovered that the money had been used to pay off an auto loan for Johnna’s son Joshua Westby, who was under the impression his mother had gotten the money out of her own personal retirement account.

The BCI determined that between three banking and trust accounts, $79,593 was spent with no known benefit to Myron Johnson. Transactions ranged from purchases for clothing, jewelry, toys and home supplies to rent payments and ATM debits..

Lee deferred imposition of sentence for Westby, imposing three years of supervised probation. Westby will be required to pay $2,025 in court fines and fees along with $77,100 in restitution to her father’s estate. 

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Stanley woman sentenced for financial exploitation

Man Charged With Financial Exploitation of Dependent Adult

OTTUMWA – An Ottumwa man has been arrested and charged with the financial exploitation of a dependent person over the course of several years.

According to court documents, 65-year-old Duane Carl Jones maintained control over the victim’s checking account from September 2021 through February 2023. A criminal complaint states that Jones utilized the victim’s funds for personal purchases and ATM withdrawals amounting to thousands of dollars. 

Jones, according to the report, admitted that none of his own money had been deposited into the account and that only he and the victim had access to the account.

A warrant for Jones’ arrest was issued in September and he was taken into custody Thursday in Ottumwa.

Jones is charged with dependent adult abuse – financial exploitation, a Class D Felony. 

He currently remains in the Wapello County Jail on a $5,000 bond and has waived his preliminary court hearing.

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Man Charged With Financial Exploitation of Dependent Adult

Friday, November 3, 2023

Supported Decision-Making Pitched As Needed Alternative To Guardianship

Written by Colin A. Young/SHNS

BOSTON (State House News Service) — A parade of self-advocates, parents, lawyers and others went before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to press lawmakers to formally enshrine in law an arrangement that aims to empower people with disabilities and elders to make important life decisions with the help of trusted advisers.

Legislation (H 1485) filed by Reps. Michael Finn and Sean Garballey would establish a legal framework for individuals with disabilities and elders to make their own decisions with the aid of people they trust using a method known as supported decision-making (SDM). The Senate version of the bill (S 109) filed by Sen. Joan Lovely was heard by the Committee on Children, Families and Persons With Disabilities last month.

The concept of supported decision-making -- an arrangement in which people with disabilities or cognitive limitations can designate a person or people to help them make their own decisions with support rather than having someone else, often a legally-appointed guardian, make decisions for them -- has been piloted here since 2014.

"Everyone uses SDM every day. Even all of you sitting here today will be using SDM. It is hard to believe, but everyone uses SDM in their life -- friends, family, coworkers, we all have to talk to somebody about something," Kim Plaut, a board member of the self-advocacy organization Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong, told the Judiciary Committee. "Today, you guys will sit together and decide whether or not to pass this bill. That is SDM; talking to each other, making a decision in your lives. Please pass the supported decision-making bill so that we have that same opportunity as people with disabilities to make decisions in our lives."

Bill backers told the committee that supported decision-making, which the Mass. Developmental Disabilities Council describes as "an alternative to guardianship that allows an individual to make decisions about his or her own life with a team of chosen supporters," does not take guardianship off the table as an option.

Barbara L'Italien, the former state senator who is now executive director at the Disability Law Center, told the committee about conversations she had with former Rep. Tom Sannicandro, a lawyer who specializes in estate planning for families with children with special needs, around the time that her son with autism was turning 18 years old. She said she thought her son would benefit from some guidance, but that guardianship "felt so heavy-handed, so over the top, and so unnecessary for my son."

"For my son, having the opportunity to weigh in on issues around his health, his finances, his housing, his employment, his social relationships is critically important and central to his sense of wellbeing. And so the thought that that would be taken away, in part or in whole, just did not make sense. So we did not seek guardianship," L'Italien said. "However, we are -- my husband and I are -- part of my son's life every single day and try to help him. But he leads the way, and that's the way it needs to be. And so I really believe that we have a gaping hole here in Massachusetts, having an all-or-nothing approach to supporting and assisting folks."

While some of the people who testified gave examples of having a parent act as a decision-making supporter, supporters do not have to be relatives and a person can have a team of supporters who each advise on a particular subset of issues.

Massachusetts Advocates for Children Executive Director Anna Krieger told the committee that the bill will do a few important things: it will make supported decision-making more accessible by requiring schools and courts to mention it as an alternative when discussing guardianship, it will clearly define the roles of a supporter, and it will establish rules for what must be included in a supported decision-making agreement.

"It also includes -- and this piece is maybe not the most exciting and glamorous, but really important -- a liability shield for third parties who are relying in good faith on the agreement. And we know because we do lots of training of hospitals and other places that until we have a protection like that, it's just not going to be embraced on a large scale," Krieger said.

Maura Sullivan, senior director of government affairs and health policy at The Arc of Massachusetts, drew on her experience teaching at medical schools in Massachusetts and told the committee that it will take a state law for supported decision-making to really catch on.

"Last year when the bill passed unanimously through the Senate, I had requests from health care professionals to provide trainings. And that was until I answered their first question, 'is it law yet?' And when I said, 'no, but it's currently being used,' there was no longer interest in being trained," she said. "A state law will be the only way to fortify this worldwide self-determination and human rights movement."

Supported decision-making legislation that Lovely filed last session won a favorable report from the Children, Families and Persons With Disabilities Committee and was passed unanimously by the Senate last November. It got to the House Ways and Means Committee with less than two months left in the session and did not re-emerge.

The session before that, the Children, Families and Persons With Disabilities Committee redrafted and advanced House and Senate versions of supported-decision making bills. In the Senate, the bill died in the Ways and Means Committee, while the House granted initial approval to its bill but took no further action on it.

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Supported Decision-Making Pitched As Needed Alternative To Guardianship

Bond forfeited in conservatorship case

Virginia Lawyers Weekly
//October 31, 2023//  

Where a conservator did not report some of the decedent’s accounts to the commissioner of accounts and made “questionable disbursements” from one of them, the trial court “did not err in confirming the Commissioner’s report and entering a final order forfeiting [the conservator’s] bond.”


Wilder was married to Thelma Wilder. They had three children: Eric, Brian and Cynthia. The trial court determined that Wilder was an incapacitated adult and appointed Minor, Wilder’s granddaughter, as his estate’s conservator.

The trial court explained that a conservator was needed “based on ‘the financial dissipation conducted by Brian Wilder and allowed by Mrs. Thelma Wilder.’” Minor was appointed conservator and posted a $1.2 million bond.

Minor did not disclose five of the Wilder’s join bank accounts on her estate inventory “as well as an additional bank account Mr. Wilder held with Burke & Herbert Bank identified as ‘-4200’ (‘Account -4200’).

“It was this undisclosed bank account that gave rise to this appeal. …

“On October 15, 2018 — just three days after her appointment as Mr. Wilder’s temporary guardian and conservator — Minor opened Account -4200 with funds Mr. Wilder already maintained in another account — identified as ‘-4197’ — with Burke & Herbert Bank (‘Account -4197’). During the latter part of 2018 and 2019, Minor made a number of questionable purchases with funds from Account -4200.”

Eric, later joined by Cynthia, alleged that Minor had underreported the assets of Wilder’s estate. Eric asked the commissioner for a hearing and also requested “production of certain bank records, including records from Burke & Herbert Bank.”

A hearing was convened on Dec. 5, 2020, and then postponed to Jan. 5, 2021, “because the Commissioner had received documents and allegations which indicated the potential for forfeiture of the surety bond, and she wanted the surety on Minor’s bond to appear as well.”

Before the hearing was adjourned, “Minor confirmed the existence of the undisclosed Account -4200.

“In anticipation of the January 5 hearing, counsel for Minor filed a hearing brief, asserting, among other arguments, that Eric and Cynthia were not ‘interested parties’ within the meaning of Code § 64.2-1209, and therefore the proceeding was improper.”

Eric’s counsel was allowed to respond, both before and during the Jan. 5 hearing.

The commission subpoenaed bank records from Burke & Herbert. “The bank’s response reflected both statements from Account -4197, which accurately reflected and accounted for transactions spent on Mr. Wilder’s guardianship and his estate, and from Account -4200, transactions for which Minor never accounted.

“Finally, on February 3, 2021, the Commissioner convened the hearing concerning the objections of Eric and Cynthia for the third time. … However, no report or further action was taken by the Commissioner as a direct result of these investigatory hearings.”

The commissioner asked Minor for “documentation explaining the propriety of the expenditures from Account -4200. … The Commissioner determined that Minor’s response was insufficient[.]” When Minor did not file “a proper final account,” the commissioner filed a “report of noncompliance” with the trial court.

The trial court issued a show cause summons. Minor’s counsel argued the proceeding was “a nullity” and claimed the commissioner “was not an impartial adjudicator.” The court order the commissioner to conduct a hearing and determine where Minor should be removed as conservator and whether the bond should be forfeited.

Minor did not attend the hearing. Her counsel did not provide evidence to explain “to explain how the funds from Account -4200 were used to benefit Mr. Wilder.”

Counsel also argued Minor was denied due process because the commissioner was “acting both as a prosecutor and as an adjudicator, and she again argued that the proceedings were a ‘nullity’ because they were instituted by Eric and Cynthia, both of whom lacked standing as ‘interested person[s]’ under Code § 64.2-1209.

“Counsel for Minor and for Liberty Mutual also argued in the alternative that the amount that they ought to be liable for was far less than the $574,462.27 that the Commissioner asserted.”

The trial court affirmed the commissioner’s report, which recommended Minor’s removal and forfeiture of the bond. Minor appealed.

Hearing process

“Appellants’ first assign error to the trial court’s ruling by arguing that the entire proceeding was a ‘nullity’ because it was instituted by Eric and Cynthia. …

“Appellants argue that, because Eric and Cynthia were not ‘interested persons’ under the statute, ‘the only thing the Commissioner could do with the objections before her would be to dismiss the objections for lack of standing.’ …

“[W]e agree with the trial court that ‘while [Code § 64.2-1209] does prescribe a method by which the Commissioner can have a hearing, the statute does not say that is the only way a commissioner may conduct a hearing.’”

The commissioner has “the duty and authority to ensure the correct administration of estates.” By statute, the commissioner has ‘the power to subpoena “any person to appear before them.”’

“The record demonstrates that that is what occurred here, and we see no issue with that process. The investigatory hearings that appellants complain of were well within the Commissioner’s ‘supervisory’ authority …. and her authority to require ‘any person’ to appear before her[.] …

“Further, the Commissioner was carrying out her statutory obligation to ensure Minor made a ‘complete and proper account.’”

Neutral arbiter

“Appellants seize upon several statements made by the Commissioner during the investigatory hearings wherein she intimated that, notwithstanding the fact that Eric and Cynthia may not be ‘interested persons’ …, she, herself, was an ‘interested person’ for purposes of the hearing, that she ‘had standing in the case,’ and that she was not ‘neutral.’

“Appellants argue that these statements evince bias on the part of the Commissioner and that the hearing process, in turn, violated their due process rights. …

“[T]he record makes clear that the Commissioner, in making the assertions that she was ‘interested,’ ‘had standing’ in the case, and was not ‘neutral,’ merely intended to express the fact that she, as Commissioner of Accounts, had a duty to assess the evidence presented to her and ensure the proper administration and distribution of Mr. Wilder’s estate. …

“The Commissioner’s statements do not render her an impartial adjudicator. In fact, the trial court came to this very conclusion[.] …

“The trial court further acknowledged that ‘although the words that she used might not have been the most artful words to use in that context, [she was saying] that the Commissioner of Accounts had duties and obligations.’ …

“[A]ppellants argue that the Commissioner violated their due process rights by exercising both ‘enforcement’ and ‘adjudicatory’ authority. …

“The Commissioner makes findings of fact and conclusions of law in her report, which, upon submission to the trial court, are merely recommendations which the trial court may accept or reject.”


Appellants argue that Eric and Cynthia’s “remedy was limited to a suit to surcharge and falsify under Code § 64.2-1213. …

“The trial court’s order and rulings were not made on behalf of Eric and Cynthia, as ‘interested persons’ proceeding pursuant to Code § 64.2-1209.

“In fact, neither Eric nor Cynthia were parties to the instant case; they received no judgment or remedy, and their legal rights were not affected in any way by the trial court’s ruling.

“Therefore, any arguments related to what remedies may or may not have been available to Eric and Cynthia are not relevant to the instant case.”


Minor, et al. v. Heishman, Record No. 0980-22-4, Oct. 10, 2023. CAV (published opinion) (Fulton III) From the Circuit Court of Fairfax County (Smith). Joseph W. Stuart for appellants. Robert B. McEntee, III, Assistant Attorney General (Jason S. Miyares, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee. Amicus Curiae: Virginia Conference of Commissioners of Accounts (John K. Cottrell; Cottrell Fletcher & Cottrell PC, on brief), for appellee. VLW 023-7-396, 30 pp.

Bond forfeited in conservatorship case - Virginia Lawyers Weekly

Dodge Center woman fails to appear at first financial exploitation hearing; arrest warrant issued


(ABC 6 News) – A Dodge Center woman failed to appear in Dodge County Court Wednesday, Nov. 1, on a charge of felony financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Michelle Renae Jefferson, 47, is accused of stealing money from a senior for whom she serves as power of attorney. 

Dodge County Court issued a warrant for Jefferson’s arrest Thursday, Nov. 2.

According to court documents, Dodge County law enforcement received a report from the MN Adult Abuse Report Center, in which the senior alleged that he was missing money from a settlement, and that checks he had not written or signed had been cashed.

According to the report, the man stated that he received monthly spending money, but Jefferson was in control of his debit card and knew the PIN number for it.

He also described the bill allocations between him and Jefferson.

According to the report, the man’s banking account indicated that the debit card had been used at Truckin America, Kwik Trip, the Dodge Center Kwik Trip ATM, and Austin’s Walmart.

The man reported that he had not used his debit card at an ATM, did not know what purchases had been made at the stores, and denied giving Jefferson permission to make online transfers.

In March, an Adult Protection social worker met with Jefferson, who allegedly said the senior was reimbursed in case for any bills he paid.

Jefferson also told the social worker that the senior had agreed to help her “when she was in a financial bind,” but did not say how much the man had loaned her, when the loan had taken place, or “the duration of payback,” according to court documents.

In April, Dodge County law enforcement received more information from the social worker, who said the senior said he remembered that Jefferson had asked to take money from his account, but did not say what it would be used for.

He did not recall her asking for money “due to a financial bind,” according to court documents. 

According to court documents, law enforcement identified roughly $40,200 in unaccounted transactions Jefferson had made from the senior’s bank account between 2014 and the beginning of 2023.

Full Article & Source:
Dodge Center woman fails to appear at first financial exploitation hearing; arrest warrant issued

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Lem Barney's family in foreclosure, may get Dave Bing's financial help to 'bring Dad home'

by Bill Laytner

The Detroit Lions looked strong and smart on Monday Night Football this week.

But despite fans’ upbeat expectations and despite the lopsided score, pro ball is rarely an easy contest. Nor is a contested guardianship.

You could ask former Lions star Lem Barney — except that Barney, now 78, can’t walk, talk, or understand the legal struggle over who should control his money and where he should live out his days. Family members in Houston have repeatedly sought that control, first abusing it, then losing it.

On Tuesday, appearing in Oakland County Probate Court via Zoom, family members in Texas continued their push — led by Barney’s son, and endorsed by Barney’s lifelong friend Dave Bing, Detroit’s former mayor — to have the former football player moved a few miles from a nursing home in Houston to his ex-wife’s house. Yet, that house was revealed, to the judge’s shock, to be in foreclosure.

“I don’t want to move him only to have him evicted,” said Oakland County Probate Judge Daniel O’Brien. The foreclosure threat was revealed by Barney’s guardian, Clarkston attorney Jon Munger, appointed last year by O’Brien to oversee Barney’s financial affairs. Munger took over after family members violated court orders, and after total balances in Barney’s two bank accounts mysteriously dropped from about $350,000 to zero.

Barney’s case presents a perfect example of how family members can fail in their oversight of vulnerable adults and children. After Tuesday’s hearing, Munger told a reporter, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to take over a situation as guardian and conservator because a family hasn’t been responsible, or even ethical, in handling it.”

No one could’ve predicted the turn of events when Barney's daughter took him from his house in Commerce Township to visit his grandchildren in Houston, where he has remained, in violation of O’Brien’s court orders. That surprising change of venue fed online insinuations that Barney had been “kidnapped by his own family in Texas” against the will of his second wife, Jacci Barney, a Michigander.

Since then, Jacci Barney has dropped from sight after developing delusional fears. A prominent target of her fears was another of Barney’s lifelong friends, ex-Lion and now radio commentator Lomas Brown, who was co-guardian of Lem Barney until Jacci Barney began spouting off about her fears, Brown told the Free Press. Jacci Barney is now doing well in an assisted-living center in Oakland County, but suffering from schizophrenia, according to court records. In the time she lived alone in Commerce Township, while her husband languished in Houston, she equipped their house with steel security screens inside every door and window, and even added a sheet of steel to a closet where she told friends that Brown might enter the house with a troop of midgets to persecute her, Munger said.

Of greater concern to the judge is Barney’s ex-wife in Houston, Martha Barney, in whose house the son she had with Lem Barney lives while he goes through a divorce, according to the son’s testimony — and in whose house Lem Barney would live if Barney's son and Bing have their way. Bing, who lives in Franklin, offered in Tuesday’s hearing to financially assist Barney’s family members “with whatever payment plan” their creditor agrees to, although the former Pistons star did not offer to pay off the debt owed on Martha Barney’s house in Houston. The amount was unstated in court documents but probably is not large, as it is unpaid fees owed to a homeowners association.

Besides that foreclosure threat, Martha Barney has displayed hostility to her ex-husband, said Lem Barney’s sister from Mississippi, who told the judge she was in Houston this week on her seventh recent visit to see her brother. Court records confirm that Martha Barney was hostile to her ex-husband even to the point of being accused of physically abusing him during his star-crossed trip to Texas in 2021, which is when he began his now permanent Southern sojourn. It was that allegation of physical abuse that brought representatives of Texas adult protective services to Martha Barney’s house, resulting in the removal of Lem Barney to the nursing home in Houston where he now resides. Caregivers say he's too frail ever to fly home to Michigan, according to court testimony.

Barney is in the late stages of dementia that began a decade ago, and which the former star cornerback blamed on the innumerable concussions he suffered in pro football. Like hundreds of other players who were plaintiffs in a much-publicized class-action lawsuit against the National Football League, Barney received a settlement about six years ago, said to be at least $500,000. Where that money is now, no one can say, Munger told the Free Press. Barney is expected to receive an additional $5,000 to $10,000 for his share in a separate lawsuit against a football helmet manufacturer whose product was implicated in thousands of concussion injuries in the NFL. These days, the NFL, along with Medicare, is paying for the erstwhile superstar’s care, amid the machinations of family members seeking to regain control of his affairs, including his bank accounts.

“This is a catastrophically dysfunctional family, with a streak of mental illness, diagnosed in some cases, only suspected in others. That runs through many of their problems,” Munger said.

To conclude Tuesday’s hearing, O’Brien ordered family members to “work with Mr. Bing” to resolve the foreclosure crisis and to report their results at a future court date. He also said that family members must show that they won’t interfere with the caregivers coming to visit and oversee Lem Barney’s care.

“I want some ground rules” put in writing, O’Brien said. Only then, the judge said, will he consider moving Lem Barney to where the former Lion could spend the rest of his life.

Full Article & Source:
Lem Barney's family in foreclosure, may get Dave Bing's financial help to 'bring Dad home'

Son charged with elder abuse when 88-year-old mother found near death in 'filthy' conditions

By Deidra Dukes

Disturbing abuse accusation against victim's son

A local man is charged in a disturbing case of elder abuse. The alleged victim was his own mother. Fifty-six-year-old Tony Sherman was arrested Monday and charged with neglect. His mother was hospitalized after maintenance workers found the Duluth woman living in deplorable conditions.

A Gwinnett County man is facing charges after maintenance workers discovered his elderly mother living in deplorable conditions.

Duluth police officers responding to a report of a person down, called for paramedics after discovering 88-year-old Ruby Sherman alone and near death inside a residence on the 3500 block of South Street.

The smell in the house was so bad, an officer on scene grew physically ill.

Maintenance workers called police to the residence after they found the elderly woman in a back bedroom, unresponsive.

In the police report, responding officers noted Sherman was filthy, lying in bed on a urine-stained mattress covered with a blanket. She was emaciated, and covered in open sores. There was old food scattered around the floor.

The victim's son, 56-year-old Tony Sherman, has been charged with abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a disabled or elderly person. He was arrested Monday, two weeks after police questioned him on scene as his mother was being rushed to the hospital.

Sherman originally told police he lives in Lawrenceville, but later admitted he stays with his mother.

He claimed that he checked on his mother several times a day, and said she doesn't want to live in a nursing home. Sherman said she  hadn't been to the doctor in a few years, and he had a hard time getting her to eat.

Full Article & Source:
Son charged with elder abuse when 88-year-old mother found near death in 'filthy' conditions

Warrant issued in elderly neglect case

NEWKIRK — A warrant is issued for Cornelius James White, 58, Ponca City, by the Kay County District Court.

White is facing a felony count of abuse, exploitation and or neglect of a vulnerable adult.

Ponca City police report that on Sept. 3 officers responded to a residence in reference to a 74-year-old female.

A relative told police that White is supposed to be taking care of the female and that she had fallen a few weeks before and suffered bruises.

The relative reportedly said that on Sept. 1 the female was transported via ambulance to the hospital and admitted to the critical care unit after she was found to be malnourished and unbathed.

An officer reportedly went to the hospital and spoke to the female. She reportedly claimed that White has been taking care of her and denied allegations that he assaulted her.

A nurse at the hospital reportedly told police that it was obvious that the female was being neglected when she arrived at the hospital.

The nurse stated that the female’s diaper was so full, “that mounds of feces were inside” and that she had “urine up in her neck and hair.” The nurse reported that it took 45 minutes to get the female cleaned up.

EMS workers reported that when they arrived at the residence, the female was sitting in her own urine and feces that was all the way up to her neck. 

An officer made contact with White.

He reportedly stated that he is having a hard time taking care of the female and that he uses her credit card with permission to get food. Police report that White smelled of alcohol.

Police obtained medical records and report that medical record abuse assessment section stated that there was no assessment findings of abuse or indications of neglect noted.

A warrant with bond endorsed at $2,500 is issued for White’s arrest.

Full Article & Source:
Warrant issued in elderly neglect case

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Diane Dimond places the practice of guardianship under scrutiny in new book

Dimond explores gender dynamics and predatory practices of guardianship at book launch.

By Lin Lin Hutchinson

Last year, the Britney Spears conservatorship battle sparked a worldwide dialogue on the complexities of managing those deemed incapacitated. Her publicized struggles underscored the necessity of balancing protection with personal autonomy in guardianship arrangements.

On Oct. 25, the Brandeis University Press, in collaboration with the Women’s Studies Research Center and with support from the Brandeis Journalism and Legal Studies Programs, held a book launch and conversation featuring author and journalist Diane Dimond and her latest book titled "We're Here To Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong."

In a discussion moderated by Prof. Ann Silvio (JOUR), past producer of “Sixty Minutes,” Dimond highlighted predatory guardianships, the lack of regulations and supervision, and the secrecy surrounding the issue.

“There was a guardian in Nevada who was so evil,'' Dimond said. “I know these words sound hard coming from a journalist who’s talking about some who they’ve never met, but it's pure evil that when your ward dies, you don't tell their family.” 

Under both voluntary and involuntary conservatorship, individuals deemed incapacitated, known as "wards," often lose their civil rights, such as the right to make decisions about their finances, healthcare, or living arrangements. The guardian then assumes the responsibility of managing the ward's financial assets and property. 

During her eight years of research for the book, Dimond encountered endless stories of a system designed to protect those incapacitated by mental and/or physical disability gone horribly wrong. She illustrates how the system becomes “predatory,” “causing the early deaths of wards, the isolation of their families, and most importantly, the desolation of their finances.” She reveals that there is a network of guardians, lawyers, and judges that work together to take advantage of the wards and benefit from guardianship.

“It [has] shaken my faith in the justice system, I have to be honest with you” Dimond said in response to a question about the impact of her eight year investigation on her perception of the judiciary system. “I look at judges differently now. I look at lawyers differently now. I'm sorry, I know there are great lawyers in guardianship, but I'm a cynic by nature,” she continued. 

Dimond spoke to a complex intersection of gender roles and the dynamics of guardianship. Throughout her extensive research, Dimond observed that a considerable number of guardians were women. This discovery, she noted, was unsettling, considering the societal expectations that women should be inherently nurturing, compassionate, and caring. 

Furthermore, the complexities of guardianship extend to encompass the experiences of young female caregivers who are caring for their mothers. These younger female caregivers are often granted power of attorney by their mothers when that mother’s husband dies. However, per Dimond's findings, many judges, under the disguise of prioritizing the well-being of the incapacitated individual, opt to appoint a professional guardian instead. This decision sidelines the daughter from the caregiving process and any complaints raised by the daughter can lead to the guardian restricting her access to her mother or implementing stringent limitations on her involvement.

“This is a profound social burden for women,” Dimond said.  

While guardianship aims to prioritize the well-being of those who lack capacity, Dimond cautions about the potential influence of individuals with a thirst for power, who exploit the system.

“Once you get into the legal system, it can grab your throat,” Dimond warns. “It [guardianship] can also work. It can work if you get a compassionate judge. But I've found too many cases where it wasn’t great, in fact it was downright awful.”

Dimond’s critique of guardianship sheds light on the flaws within its framework. Her extensive, award-winning career as a freelance journalist, author, columnist, and former television correspondent deepens her readerships’ understanding of the intricacies of issues related to crime and justice. 

Editor’s Note: Justice Editorial Assistant Grace Doh contributed to the reporting of this article. 

Full Article & Source:
Diane Dimond places the practice of guardianship under scrutiny in new book

Guardian and applied behavioral analyst criminally charged for treatment of vulnerable adult

Vermont Business Magazine The Attorney General’s Office announced that Kathryn Flynn, 69, of Essex, Vermont, and Yoanna Vaughan, 36, of South Burlington, Vermont, were each arraigned yesterday on charges stemming from the care they provided to a vulnerable adult receiving Medicaid-funded services. The investigation, conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit (MFRAU), began after concerns were raised with authorities about the neglect and abuse of a vulnerable adult for whom Flynn was the guardian.

As a result of MFRAU’s investigation, the Attorney General’s Office has alleged that Flynn placed extensive and unlawful restrictions on the vulnerable adult’s daily activities. 

It is further alleged that Vaughan, who was hired by Flynn as an Applied Behavioral Analyst to oversee the vulnerable adult’s program of care, was unlicensed and living in another state for months at a time while billing Vermont Medicaid for services.

Flynn has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult, misdemeanor Unauthorized Practice, misdemeanor Abuse by Unlawful Confinement, misdemeanor Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult, and felony Financial Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult.

Vaughan has been charged with misdemeanor Unauthorized Practice and felony Medicaid Fraud.

Flynn and Vaughan both pleaded not guilty at their arraignments on October 30, 2023, in Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Criminal Division. The Court, Judge Michael Harris presiding, ordered conditions of release for the defendants which include prohibitions on providing care for vulnerable adults, with certain exceptions.

If you suspect someone is being or has been neglected or abused, contact local law enforcement immediately. Neglect and abuse may also be reported to Adult Protective Services by calling 800-564-1612 and MFRAU at

The Attorney General’s Office emphasizes that individuals charged with a crime are legally presumed innocent until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

MFRAU receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $1,229,616 for Federal fiscal year 2024. The remaining 25 percent, totaling $409,870 for FFY 2024, is funded by the State of Vermont.

Source: 10.31.2023. MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Attorney General

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Guardian and applied behavioral analyst criminally charged for treatment of vulnerable adult

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Guardianships Unwrapped: Navigating the Maze of Legal Guardianship

From Britney Spears to Michael Oher, conservatorships have been a hot topic lately. There are many questions surrounding when a conservatorship or guardianship is appropriate and how that is determined. The words conservatorship and guardianship are often used interchangeably; however, each state defines them differently. In New York State, we do not have conservatorships, rather we utilize different types of guardianships to achieve the same results. Both conservatorships and guardianships are court proceedings that allow a judge to appoint someone to make certain financial, legal, medical and other everyday decisions for another person if the court determines that person is incapacitated and in need of a guardian. The court will use the least restrictive means possible, and generally, the guardian is only permitted to do what is written out in the court order.

In New York, you can have guardianship over someone’s person and/or their property. Guardianship “of the person” allows a court-appointed guardian to make decisions regarding things like medical care, education, where a person should live, whether a person should drive a car or travel, and other decisions regarding the social environment of the incapacitated person’s life. Guardianship “of the property” allows a court-appointed guardian to make decisions regarding the finances and property management of the incapacitated person. It can allow a guardian to make gifts, create trusts, purchase stocks, sell a house, apply for government benefits, pay bills, and handle other legal and financial matters. Depending on the circumstances, these authorities may be limited or expanded.

In New York State, there are three different types of guardianship. An Article 17 guardian under the Surrogate’s Court Procedures Act is a guardian (usually a parent or grandparent) who is appointed for a minor child. This often happens when a minor child will be receiving money or property from a settlement or inheritance. It may also happen when both parents have passed away and someone needs to act as the child’s legal guardian to make decisions that their parent would normally make. This proceeding can be filed in surrogate’s court or in family court depending on the circumstances.

Guardianship of an intellectually or developmentally disabled adult, also called an Article 17-A guardianship, is when someone is appointed to protect the interests of an intellectually and/or developmentally disabled adult who is unable to make certain decisions themselves. This is the most restrictive type of guardianship in New York State and will normally include most decisions that a parent would make for a child. This type of guardianship requires two medical affidavits confirming that the adult has a disability or traumatic brain injury and that because of that disability, they are unable to manage their affairs. This is a proceeding that is filed in surrogate’s court and is governed by the Surrogate’s Court Procedures Act.

The final type of guardianship in New York is an Article 81 guardian under the NY Mental Hygiene Law and is filed in supreme or county court. This is a guardianship that is often filed when someone has not done any advanced planning (health care proxy and power of attorney) and no longer have capacity due to certain medical conditions like Alzheimer’s. During the guardianship proceeding, the judge will determine whether the person is incapacitated and in need of a guardian. The judge will make this determination if the person is unable to take care of their personal and/or property needs and they are likely to suffer harm because of this. If the judge has determined that the person is incapacitated, then they will appoint someone to act as the incapacitated person’s guardian. This can be a family member or it can be a third party. Any proposed guardian must complete guardianship training and be approved by the court before they can act as a guardian.

The intricacies of guardianships can be quite complex, but understanding the key distinctions among the three discussed here is a critical step toward informed decision-making. From the nurturing care of Article 17 guardians, the tailored support of Article 17-A guardianships for individuals with developmental disabilities, to the comprehensive oversight of Article 81 guardians, each form of guardianship plays a vital role in protecting the interests and well-being of our loved ones. Whether it's managing financial affairs, personal care, or making healthcare decisions, these guardianships offer invaluable tools to provide a safety net for those who need it most.

It is essential to recognize the significance of seeking legal guidance to determine the most suitable form of guardianship for your specific situation.

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Guardianships Unwrapped: Navigating the Maze of Legal Guardianship

Ankeny woman charged with murder in death of 73-year-old, bedridden man

by Virginia Barreda

An Ankeny woman who served as a caretaker to a bedridden, elderly man was charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death due to abuse, detectives with the Polk County Sheriff's Office say.

Diana Lynn Becker-Abeyta, 61, who served as 73-year-old Ray Crammond's "live-in caretaker," was arrested Wednesday following a months-long Iowa Department of Human Services investigation, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

Crammond, who died April 29 after contracting pneumonia, had received "inadequate care" from Becker-Abeyta, officials allege. According to court documents, Crammond was not given medications, bathed, fed, hydrated, or "meeting any basic needs" in a "bed-ridden state."

First responders described the conditions and health of Crammond as "devastating" when they arrived at his home in April, according to a court filing.

Responders said Crammond had multiple bed sores on his back and buttocks, it said. Crammond was taken to Mercy hospital where he died eight days later.

The Department of Human Services began an investigation into Crammond's death in May following his death. DHS caseworkers who went to Crammond's house found the residence to be "extremely dirty and un-kept," officials said.

Detectives also found Becker-Abeyta is a non-licensed caretaker. They allegedly also found evidence that Becker-Abeyta had been using Crammond’s money for things other than his care.

In June, Becker-Abeyta was arrested and charged with financial exploitation of an older individual and neglect of a dependent person, according to the news release.

Later, results from an investigation into Crammond’s death, as well as autopsy results from the State of Iowa’s Medical Examiner's Office, found he had gotten pneumonia due to Klebsiella pneumoniae Infection. The manner of his death was a homicide, according to the news release.

The sheriff's office put out an arrest warrant for Becker-Abeyta on Oct. 18 and she was booked in the Polk County Jail on Wednesday, the news release said.

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Ankeny woman charged with murder in death of 73-year-old, bedridden man

31-year-old man found guilty of financially exploiting an 88-year-old man

By Roberta Baker

A Manchester man who financially exploited the elderly man whose home he shared was convicted Monday of 16 Class A felony counts of identity fraud, credit-card fraud and theft, according to a news release from the New Hampshire Attorney General.

After a five-day trial, a jury found Dujae Richards, 31, guilty of 12 counts of identity fraud, three counts of credit card fraud, and one count of theft by unauthorized taking. Jurors concluded that Richards intentionally took advantage of the 88-year-old, whose age and impaired vision compromised his ability to manage his property and finances and protect his rights and interests.

As a result, Richards is subject to an enhanced sentence of 10 to 30 years in New Hampshire State Prison for each conviction.

According to court documents, Richards illegally obtained more than $166,000 from the man, which he used to pay outstanding debts and take a casino vacation in Las Vegas, among other personal expenses.

Richards moved in with the elderly man — whose identity has not been disclosed — after Richards lost his apartment. Richards’ mother-in-law served as the man’s caregiver. After moving in, Richards agreed to assist with managing his finances in exchange for living there rent free.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Richards posed as the man to get an additional credit card on the man’s American Express account. Between October 2020 and February 2021, he withdrew more than $125,000 from the man’s annuity and multiple insurance policies. He illegally used credit cards issued in the older man’s name, and withdrew funds from his TD Bank checking account.

Financial fraud crimes account for most of the referrals to the NH AG’s Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit, including 75% of all referrals received last year, said Assistant Attorney General Bryan J. Thompson II, one of the attorneys who prosecuted the case. That percentage has been fairly consistent since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

More than three-quarters of the unit’s financial exploitation referrals are for crimes allegedly committed by someone close to the victim — a family member, friend or caregiver, Thompson explained.

“Older adults who are relying on others to manage their finances should make sure to still check their accounts regularly,” said Thompson. Or, he said, at least have another trusted adult check them regularly, in order to double-check a new companion’s actions.

If the new companion refuses to provide the information requested by the older adult, “that is an immediate red flag,” Thompson said. Older adults shouldn’t give too much control to companions. “If there is power of attorney, there should be limitations on the ability to spend.”

Richards’ sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 29, 2024. Nashua Police and the New Hampshire Insurance Department assisted in the investigation.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office advises victims of elder abuse or financial exploitation or anyone who knows of a victim to contact their local police department or the Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services 1-800-949-0470.

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31-year-old man found guilty of financially exploiting an 88-year-old man

Monday, October 30, 2023

Hamilton County probate judge accused of misconduct over Facebook comments on open case

By: Taylor Weiter

CINCINNATI — A Hamilton County probate judge is accused of misconduct after he made comments on Facebook about a case he was overseeing.

The formal complaint submitted to the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct says Judge Ralph Winkler responded to the son of a woman in an ongoing guardianship case who was criticizing a magistrate's handling of the case.

In October 2022, the son commented on a post on Winkler's public profile. Winkler responded, saying the son was "just mad because we had to intercede and take care of your mother when you did not."

"I am glad a nice neighbor called Senior Services and we got your mother into a safe, clean and healthy care facility," Winkler commented. "God only knows what would have happened to her if a Good Samaritan neighbor had not reported this elder abuse."

Winkler responded again to another comment, saying in part, "you were wrong for not taking proper care of your mother."

"When you did make it to court you often reeked of alcohol," Winkler said. "Plus, you also missed many hearings for unknown reasons. Don’t try to blame my court or (the magistrate) for your shortcomings as a son. ... Your mother could have died or suffered needlessly if my court didn’t help her."

The complaint claims many of Winkler's comments were "incorrect" and "misleading," including that the woman suffered from elder abuse. Winkler said he relied on memory while responding to the comment and did not look at the case.

Winkler said that he realized he should not have made the comments, deleted them and then handed control of his page to a staff member. He said he also deleted or hid the son's comments.

The complaint says the guardianship was open when Winkler made the comments — and remains open now. Winkler recused himself in August.

WCPO reached out to Winkler and his office but has yet to hear back. The Ohio Supreme Court will ultimately decide if he violated any rules.

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Hamilton County probate judge accused of misconduct over Facebook comments on open case

Fairhope PD arrests couple accused of financial exploitation of elderly woman

By WALA Staff

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - The Fairhope Police Department arrested a man and his wife after a monthslong investigation involving exploitation of the elderly.

Christopher Spaulding, 48, and Shannon Spaulding, 44, both of Fairhope, each face charges of financial exploitation of the elderly and fraudulent use of a credit/debit card.

Police said Christopher Spaulding intimidated his mother to get money from her. Then while the mother was in the hospital, Christopher’s wife, Shannon Spaulding, spent $1,500 of the mother’s money using her debit card, according to investigators.

The mother reported it after she realized what was happening, police said.

Both suspects were granted bond of $8,000 each. They both remained in the Baldwin County Corrections Center of as late Thursday afternoon.

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Fairhope PD arrests couple accused of financial exploitation of elderly woman

Two In-home Caregivers Charged With Financial Exploitation of Care Dependent Persons

Lock Haven – Two women acting as In-home caregivers were charged with Financial exploitation of Older Adults and Access Device Fraud this week. The two investigations were unrelated, but demonstrate a recently increasing trend in Clinton County of in-home caregivers taking advantage of elderly and care-dependent people in the area. 

 Britney L. Hostrander, 28 years old, of Trout Run, PA. was charged for alleged crimes that took place in Wayne Township, Clinton County. Her alleged victims are a 76-year-old female and an 80-year-old male. Pine Creek Township Police allege that Hostrander was an employee of an in-home caregiving company, Helping Hands Home Health. Hostrander is alleged to have used the credit cards belonging to her client and her client's husband to make unauthorized purchases of nearly $2000, including almost $500 that Hostrander is alleged to have paid on outstanding costs and fines for her prior criminal cases in Mifflin County. Hostrander has previous convictions for Access Device Fraud, Forgery and Theft. 

Shannon Schenck, 45, of Lock Haven, was charged by Mill Hall Borough Police Department with with Financial Exploitation of an Older Adult or Care-Dependant Person, and Access Device Fraud. Schenck is alleged to have been an employee for Arcadia Homecare and Staffing, and served as an in-home caregiver for a 71-year-old female resident of Mill Hall Borough. Mill Hall Borough Police allege that Schenck used the the victim’s credit card for over $2,000 to pay for Schenck's personal utility bills. Schenck has previous drug and a DUI convictions.

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Two In-home Caregivers Charged With Financial Exploitation of Care Dependent Persons

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Britney Spears' Lawyer Urges Dad Jamie to Reach Conservatorship Settlement With Pop Star as His Health Rapidly Declines: Report

By:Rebecca Friedman

The Princess of Pop's lawyer, Matthew Rosengart, recently sent an email to Jamie's attorney asking to negotiate a settlement for the 71-year-old's alleged wrongdoings during Britney's conservatorship, a new report revealed.

Jamie's lawyer quickly tried to shut down Rosengart's attempt at reaching an agreement, insisting he waited far to long to try to make a deal, as Britney, 41, has been freed from her father's control for nearly two years, two sources with direct knowledge on the situation explained to a news publication.

According to the insiders, Rosengart began his email by expressing his awareness of Jamie's recent health woes, noting his illness is even more of a reason for the dad-of-three to acknowledge the accusations of manipulation, abuse and other harmful behaviors Britney has came forward with and pay the "Toxic" singer an unspecified sum so the legal dispute could be resolved once and for all.

In his detailed message, Britney's lawyer claimed Jamie authorized an illegal surveillance of the pop sensation during the conservatorship —specifically involving her phone — however, Rosengart never filed a lawsuit about the allegations and the statute of limitations closed out more than a year ago.

Jamie's attorney additionally insisted the illegal surveillance claims were completely untrue.

The disgraced dad clapped back at Britney's request for a settlement payment, instead asking her to fork over money for attorneys fees he received in court during her successful attempt to dissolve the conservatorship in November 2021.

Rosengart didn't think twice before informing Jamie that wouldn't be happening.

Jamie's lawyer supposedly offered to withdraw the request a year ago if Rosengart took back Britney's accusations against her father, though the "Circus" singer's attorney said no to that too, the source detailed.

It seems Jamie's legal team won't budge so long as the threats and allegations on Britney's side continue.

With no settlement in sight, the case is scheduled to begin trial in May — and insiders warned there could be explosive evidence ready to be revealed in court that would not be beneficial to Britney's side of the dispute.

Some of Rosengart's strongest claims won't even make it to court due to the lapsed statute of limitations and previous approval from the conservatorship judge involving certain expenditures Britney's attorney is challenging.

TMZ spoke to sources about Rosengart's email to Jamie's attorney.

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Britney Spears' Lawyer Urges Dad Jamie to Reach Conservatorship Settlement With Pop Star as His Health Rapidly Declines: Report

See Also:
Britney Spears

Elderly women scammed by smooth-talking shyster: Claims

John D. Moore, who allegedly scammed his mother-in-law in Dothan seems to have moved his scams to Florida

He faces nearly 30 charges of bilking an elderly Dothan and now there are complaints from other women he scammed them.DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Dawn Lynch moved to Navarre, Florida, a few years ago, coming from northern Ohio. A couple of words reveal her accent isn’t from the Deep South.

However, Dawn, 76, who has fit into the Panhandle lifestyle quite nicely, is delighted with her modest manufactured home in a 55-plus community.“I saved the money to get my floors repaired because some of the spots on them were really soft,” Lynch said.Having previously used Moore for smaller jobs, he was her go-to guy for the flooring project---or so she thought. She called him a personable and friendly man, but now she thinks of him as a scammer.

Lynch isn’t the only one who claims Moore duped them. Down the road is Sharon Routledge, who settled in Navarre after bouncing around the country for years.She claims she gave Moore the $800 he requested to purchase materials for a project at her home, but all she ever saw was a stack of inferior wood and no work.“Before we concluded our investigation, we were well over $250,000,” Dothan police said of the amount Moore stole from an elderly woman here.

News4′ Fact Finders contacted Moore, who said he would consider a comment but has yet to provide one.Court schedulers set Moore’s trial on November 13 in Dothan.

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Elderly women scammed by smooth-talking shyster: Claims

Dog saves teen from deadly stroke: ‘He can tell when something is wrong’

By Brooke Steinberg

A 17-year-old boy who suffered a severe stroke lives to tell the tale thanks to his hero dog.

Amanda and Daines Tanner, who live in Spring, Texas, were woken up by their 1-year-old border collie at around 5 a.m. on Aug. 26. At first they ignored the pup, named Axel, thinking he just wanted to be let outside.

“He was pawing me more than normal to get me to move,” Amanda, 44, told

The dog continued to try to wake the couple, so Daines got out of bed to let him out. But instead of going outside, Axel walked right to the door of the other bedroom and refused to move.

Daines opened the door and found his stepson, Gabriel Silva, suffering from a stroke: He was slurring his words and couldn’t move the right side of his body.

“Axel has always been very intuitive. He can tell when something is wrong — like if we are feeling down or stressed — and he does his best to fix the problem,” Silva told People magazine. “That morning he must have sensed I needed help so he woke up someone who could help.”

Family Dog Wakes Parents of Boy, 17, Who Was Suffering a Stroke: 'He Sensed I Needed Help'
Gabriel Silva was found suffering from a stroke, slurring words and paralyzed on the right side of his body.
Facebook/Amanda Tanner

Silva was rushed to the emergency room, then was transferred to a medical center to get specialized care from Dr. Sabih Effendi, a neurosurgeon and the hospital’s stroke specialist.

Silva is in his “senior year, [he plays] varsity soccer,” his shaken mother said. “And I’m like, what just happened? A whole life of planning and it all looks different now.”

“We wouldn’t have thought to go into Gabriel’s room and wake him up. He’s a teenager. It was a Saturday morning. We went to bed late. We wouldn’t think to go in there until maybe noon,” Amanda added.

1-year-old border collie, Axel
Amanda and Daines Tanner were woken up by their 1-year-old border collie at around 5 a.m. on Aug. 26.
Facebook/Amanda Tanner

By the time Effendi saw Silva, he had lost all ability to speak and his right hand was extremely weak. The high school senior underwent a cerebral angiogram, and the doctor discovered he had an artery dissection, an emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in the lining of an artery, according to Mayo Clinic.

The artery dissection caused an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed, according to the American Stroke Association. This type of stroke accounts for 87% of all strokes.

Silva was given blood thinners to restore the blood flow to his brain as quickly as possible.

Doctors said that if he got medical attention any later than he did, he would have been “unable to be functional in life.”

Pictured: Their 1-year-old border collie, Axel
Axel has always been very intuitive. He can tell when something is wrong – like if we are feeling down or stressed – and he does his best to fix the problem,” Silva told People magazine.
Facebook/Amanda Tanner

Effendi said that Axel made a “massive” difference in saving Silva from getting to that point.

“Millions of neurons are lost each minute that passes during an ischemic stroke, ultimately impacting speech and movement and could even result in death,” the doctor told People. “Had the family dog not alerted Gabriel’s parents, and had Gabriel’s parents not identified his symptoms as stroke symptoms, the time to treatment could have been severely delayed resulting in a much different outcome for Gabriel.”

He continued, “Instead, Gabriel is walking, talking and looking forward to finishing his senior year of high school.”

Silva spent a week in the hospital before being transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann rehab center, where he went through physical, occupational and speech therapy. He’s now in the process of recovering in outpatient therapy — and has high hopes of returning to school and soccer in a matter of weeks.

Family Dog Wakes Parents of Boy, 17, Who Was Suffering a Stroke: 'He Sensed I Needed Help'
Gabriel Silva was rushed to the emergency room and was then transferred to Memorial Hermann — The Woodlands Medical Center where he received specialized care.
Facebook/Amanda Tanner

As for Axel, the brave dog hasn’t left Silva’s side — and Amanda wants to make him a mini medal of honor to put on his collar.

“He’s now tasked with following Gabriel everywhere,” she told “He’s now sleeping with Gabriel more, and Gabriel’s doors are open so he can go in and out. He’s always been very sensitive to everything and everybody’s emotions at home.”

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Dog saves teen from deadly stroke: ‘He can tell when something is wrong’