06/09/13 — Mount Olive man arrested for elder abuse of two people

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Mount Olive man arrested for elder abuse of two people

By Nelson Bland
Published in News on June 9, 2013 1:50 AM

Special to the Argus

MOUNT OLIVE -- An 73-year-old invalid man was found covered in feces and living in "bad, very bad unsanitary conditions" at 402 E. Kornegay Street in Mount Olive, while a woman in her late 80s in a separate area of the house "appeared to be living in a normal environment but seemed confused," Mount Olive Chief of Police Brian Rhodes said Wednesday.

The two victims were found in the house after police received some confidential information from a concerned citizen about the welfare of the victims, Rhodes said.

Police arrested Richard Collins Steele Jr., 41, 402 E. Kornegay St., Mount Olive, on Tuesday in connection with the incident and booked him on a charge of felony neglect of elders or disabled adults. He was placed under a $2,000 secure bond at the Wayne County Jail.

Rhodes said Steele told police that he was the caregiver for the two persons.

The names of the victims were not released by police.

"We didn't want to embarrass them by using their names, but the man is the father of the person we arrested and the woman is the suspect's grandmother on his mother's side," Rhodes said.

He said Steele, who is not employed, "just wasn't doing what he was supposed to do in caring for the victims."

The victims were living in a house, which is also Steele's residence, Rhodes said. He said the house was "split," with one part being an old beauty shop where the male victim was found "bedridden and covered in feces."

Rhodes said the man's skin "appeared to be breaking down."

"The man could not walk, but I don't know why," Rhodes said. "He had some health issues and was not capable of getting up out of the bed."

Rhodes said that on Thursday, May 30, at approximately 11 p.m., officers of the Mount Olive Police Department received a call from a concerned citizen who reported that there were two elderly persons living at 402 E. Kornegay St. that were being neglected.

Upon the officers' arrival at the location they met with the suspect who said he was the caregiver for both of the elderly people, Rhodes said. He said officers were granted access to the dwelling where they found that the house is actually a "split unit."

Rhodes said that on one side of the residence, officers found the woman who appeared to be confused but was otherwise unharmed. The man was found on the other side of the house in the former beauty shop area, Rhodes said.

"The living conditions in the part of the residence where the man was located were cluttered and in a bad sanitary condition with extreme heat," Rhodes said. "Officers discovered that the bed linings were soiled and appeared to not have been changed in several days. The man had an abundant amount of urine and fecal matter on his person, clothing, and bed linens."

Rhodes said the Wayne County EMS was dispatched to the scene and transported the man to Wayne Memorial Hospital, and that the Department of Social Services also was contacted and informed of the situation involving the victims.