A Michigan woman accused caregivers of imprisoning her elderly father and stepmother in their own home—a situation she said started when a judge inexplicably denied her request for guardianship.
Marcia Mitchell told WXYZ that Barb and Bob, her 70-year-old stepmother and 72-year-old father, were dealing with memory issues and dementia. She said their ailing health led her to petition the Macomb County Probate Court to become their conservator and guardian so she could hire full-time caregivers.
She recalled being “dumbfounded” when, instead of honoring her request, the judge awarded guardianship and conservatorship to an outside company, Caring Hearts Michigan Inc.
Mitchell told WXYZ that the judge made her feel “like a bad daughter” despite her trying to care for her elderly parents.
The news station reported that Caring Hearts Michigan Inc. hired a company called Executive Care, who brought multiple 24-hour caregivers into Bill and Barb’s home. Both companies are said to be owned by Catherine Kirk who, as guardian and conservator, can reportedly bill the couple’s estate for the round-the-clock care.
WXYZ reported that Bill and Barb’s estate is worth approximately $2.7 million. Further, the news station found that neither company was on the state health department’s list of approved adult home help agencies.
“It’s a racket. It’s money,” cousin Gretchen Sommer offered.
Relatives live next door to Bill and Barb. Despite this, they’re reportedly completely cut off from the couple, with Sommer alleging that their landline phone was disconnected, their cellphones were taken, and their cars were towed.
“I just want my parents back,” Mitchell said, adding that she hasn’t seen them in more than a month.
Family members also told the news station that Bill and Barb call out through their six-foot privacy fence—which was reportedly installed by the caregivers. They claimed they were barred from the home after they asked why caregivers were sleeping during their shifts and smoking in the couple’s home.
“They’re literally prisoners in their own home, and they’ve done nothing wrong,” Sommer added.
Utica police confirmed to WXYZ that they’ve been called to the home 13 times since Caring Hearts Michigan Inc. was awarded guardianship. In fact, the station reporters alleged that the cops were called on them as they interviewed family members.
A lawyer for the company claimed that relatives were barred from the home for giving Bill and Barb illegal drugs and medication. However, he reportedly declined to provide visitor logs or proof to support his allegations.
In light of WXYZ’s story, Kirk petitioned the court for a restraining order against the relatives and requested to install security cameras in and outside the home. Moreover, Caring Hearts Michigan Inc. reportedly granted the family visitation after the news station pressed the judge about the company.
Not only is the family pushing back against the security camera measure, but they’re now asking why Bob keeps trying to escape the home and why he was spotted with bruised arms.
In a statement to WXYZ, the caregiving company claimed Barb and Bob are “safe and healthy living in their own home.” They also said the couple were “malnourished” and “living in dangerous and unsanitary conditions” prior to their involvement—something their family emphatically denied.
“It’s absolutely insane. It’s disgusting,” Sommer said of the predicament. “And it’s happening right here, it’s a form of trafficking in my opinion.”
[Featured image: WXYZ video screengrab]