Two charged in Moultrie elder abuse case -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Moultrie woman has surgery while elder abuse case continues

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) –  A Moultrie woman has had a successful surgery Sunday after she was hospitalized for elder neglect. Doctors had to amputate both of her feet.

74-year old Christine Welch's caretakers are in jail charged with cruelty to a person 65 or older. Moultrie law enforcement officials found Welch dehydrated and down to just 80 pounds. She was living in such deplorable conditions, police had a hard time describing how they found her.

"I have never seen a case this bad," said Cpl. Dave Underwood of the Moultrie Police Department.

The outside of the Third Street Northwest home is run down, but what police found inside the room where Christine Welch lived left them speechless.

"It was a mattress and a box springs in there, there was some clothing on the mattress, there were some other items in there, I really kind of don't even know how to describe it," said Underwood.

The house had no electricity and little food. Neighbors say it's been at least a year since they saw Welch.

"No I haven't the only time I've seen here is when they were bring her out to put her in the ambulance," said Johnnie Mae Westbrooks, a neighbor.

It's likely because of how she was found.

"Severe bed sores with maggots in these bed sores, on several parts of her body. He feet were in a state of decay or decomposition to the point that she is going to lose both feet," said Underwood.

Her care takers Tosha Chambers and Royce Dilliard Junior aren't related to her. One of their family members told us Royce assumed the care duties when his wife died a year ago. They claim Chambers was going to school to be a Certified Nurse Assistant. They were living in the home, leaving police to question why they did nothing to help Welch who was extremely malnourished.

"I guess she was paying some kind of rent, again we're still investigating the whole picture, I think she was on Social Security of some sort," said Underwood.

Police are now working to determine where that money went along with how much Welch's two daughters who live in Moultrie knew. The situation has both neighbors and police shaking their heads.

"She shouldn't have been treated like that, there's better places for people like us," said Westbrooks.

"No one deserves to be treated like that, no one," said Underwood.

Moultrie Police are working with Adult Protective Services to care for Christine Welch. Doctors are trying to improve her condition so she can undergo surgery. We tried to contact one of her daughters who live in Moultrie Friday, but when we knocked on the door, no one answered.

Moultrie Police are still questioning family members and searching through financial records. Right now, they don't expect to arrest anyone else but say additional charges may be filed against Chambers and Dillard.

Moultrie Police call what happened to Christine Welch a preventable crime, and the SOWEGA Council on Aging is urging neighbors, family, and friends not to turn a blind eye to elder abuse.

Elder abuse is any intentional or negligent act that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Family members are more often the abusers than any other group.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging say people are quick to report animal abuse or neglect, but when it comes to another human being, people often don't want to get involved or say it's none of their business.

They want you to speak up. 

"Many people don't report I think simply because they're afraid to get involved and they don't want their name out there," said Debbie Blanton, Assist. Director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging. "But if you call APS or you call law enforcement you don't have to give your name. You can be confidential about that but why wouldn't you want to report it if you think something as bad as what happened in Moultrie."

A sign of abuse can often be the unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression.

You can always call law enforcement or 911 to report suspected abuse. You can also report suspicions to Adult Protective Services at 1-888-884-0152.

You can also call the Ombudsman at 229-432-1124, or toll free, 1-800-282-6612.

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