Senior home accused of human trafficking and sexual exploitation - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Text Description

Columbus senior home accused of human trafficking and sexual exploitation shut down

Posted: Updated:
COLUMBUS, Ga. -

A Columbus senior citizen home and care center has been shut down after a two month investigation revealed residents were victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, the Columbus Police Department announced Thursday afternoon. The center's owner, director and maintenance manager are among those arrested.

Two months ago, local authorities - joined by resources including the FBI - began an investigation in to Loving Care Independent Living Center, a licensed facility located at 4225 Alton Drive. The investigation found operators were not providing needed medical care, committing financial fraud, allowing residents to live in unsanitary conditions and "patients would sometimes have to endure some rather unspeakable acts of physical cruelty and sexual abuse," police say in a released statement.

"The elderly victims were not given enough food and the poorly equipped and undermanned staff gave them inadequate medical treatment while internal medical records were poorly maintained," the release e-mailed to News 3 by Sgt. Mark Richards of the Columbus Police Department's Bureau of Investigative Services and Special Victim's Unit reads.

The 19 disabled adults living in the home were transferred by authorities to other care facilities after a December 4 fire in the center's kitchen, according to police. Inside the facility, investigators found - what they call - extremely unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Items recovered from the center include food items covered in roach feces and other bugs. Additionally, canned food items were found to be rusted or expired.

During the course of the investigation, officials determined the site's owner, Sheryl Drakeford, had been "outsourcing" excess patients to other facilities.

"Sheryl Drakeford would routinely take in her elderly and disabled adult patients into her home knowing that her facility was overcrowded," the release from Sgt. Richards says. "As the facility became overcrowded, the facility would send some of their obnoxious and troubling patients to another facility that was unlicensed. In some cases, these unlicensed facilities were worse than where they were previously staying."

Inside Loving Care Independent Living Center, residents would sometimes have to sleep on a couch or bathroom floor, police say. In some cases, bedrooms designed to house two residents were supporting three at a time.

Additionally, police say Drakeford was committing financial fraud by collecting rent from residents who did not have a place to stay or had moved out. She is also accused of collecting hundreds of dollars of personal money from her residents.

"[The residents] needed somebody to take care of them, protect them," the release from Sgt. Richards says. "This collaborative investigation sends a resounding message that elder and disabled adult exploitation will not be tolerated."

Drakeford along with Bruce Davis are both facing a felony charge of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Disabled Persons. They are also facing a misdemeanor count of Operating a Personal Care Home Without a License. Marcus Miles and KaShonda Miles are each facing a count of Aggravated Child Molestation, two counts of False Imprisonment and two counts of Sexual Assault of a Person while in Custody. Columbus police say more arrests are "likely in the future."

Authorities encourage families to investigate living facilities before enrolling loved ones. Families should check a center's license, credentials and references. Columbus police are encouraging the public to report suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services by phone at 1-866-55AGING between the hours of 8a and 5p eastern Monday through Friday.

The Columbus Police Department was assisted by the Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulations Division as well as other state and federal agencies during the investigation.

WRBL News 3 reached out to Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who often speaks on behalf of the police department because of her dual role as the director of public safety, for comment but Tomlinson declined. She said she was not familiar with the investigation and was not expected to be briefed on it until Friday morning at the earliest.

**This is a developing story. Stay with WRBL News 3 and WRBL.com for updates.

James Brierton

James joined WRBL News 3 with experience from CNN, NBC News and his own hyper-local news site. He manages the WRBL News 3 Web desk. More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Motorcycle club altercation leaves 2 dead, 2 injured

    Motorcycle club altercation leaves 2 dead, 2 injured

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:11 AM EDT2014-09-02 11:11:25 GMT
    Two victims were shot in the chest and died. Two other people had non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive, said police.
    Two victims were shot in the chest and died. Two other people had non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive, said police.
  • New Details: Columbus man dies after being run over by own car

    New Details: Columbus man dies after being run over by own car

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:46 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:46:27 GMT
    Flowers were left at the scene where 29-year-old Anthony Williams died early Sunday morning after police say he was run over by his car.The crash happened at Chase Homes on 1st Avenue. Many residents say they could hear the crash from inside their home.“You heard the loud boom and there was a crash, when I came over here he was just laying on the ground,” said Selena Ross.Police say initially they responded to a call late Saturday night about a pedestrian being run over by a car. After talkin...
    Flowers were left at the scene where 29-year-old Anthony Williams died early Sunday morning after police say he was run over by his car.The crash happened at Chase Homes on 1st Avenue. Many residents say they could hear the crash from inside their home.“You heard the loud boom and there was a crash, when I came over here he was just laying on the ground,” said Selena Ross.Police say initially they responded to a call late Saturday night about a pedestrian being run over by a car. After talkin...
  • PHOTOS: August 2014 Mugshots

    PHOTOS: August 2014 Mugshots

    Friday, August 15 2014 3:29 PM EDT2014-08-15 19:29:55 GMT
    Mugshots from across central Alabama from August 2014.
    Mugshots from across central Alabama from August 2014.
  • Crime WatchMore>>

  • PHOTOS: Phenix City gas station robbed at gunpoint

    PHOTOS: Phenix City gas station robbed at gunpoint

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:23 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:23:31 GMT
    Surveillance image show an armed man robbing a Phenix City gas station early Monday morning.Surveillance image show an armed man robbing a Phenix City gas station early Monday morning.
    Phenix City police release images of a man robbing a gas station at gunpoint early Monday morning.
    Phenix City police release images of a man robbing a gas station at gunpoint early Monday morning.
  • Woman robbed of $700 at knifepoint in Columbus bank parking lot, report says

    Woman robbed of $700 at knifepoint in Columbus bank parking lot, report says

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:11 PM EDT2014-08-31 03:11:34 GMT
    Two men held a 50-year-old woman at knife point and took hundreds of dollars from her in a bank parking lot Friday, according to a police report.The woman told police the attack happened after she withdrew $700 from the Wells Fargo ATM on 13th Street. She says it happened around 5:30 in the afternoon.“That is very surprising, especially in broad daylight. It's just getting outrageous these days,” said Roy Robertson, who was withdrawing money from the ATM on Saturday.The woman told News 3 she ...
    Two men held a 50-year-old woman at knife point and took hundreds of dollars from her in a bank parking lot Friday, according to a police report.The woman told police the attack happened after she withdrew $700 from the Wells Fargo ATM on 13th Street. She says it happened around 5:30 in the afternoon.“That is very surprising, especially in broad daylight. It's just getting outrageous these days,” said Roy Robertson, who was withdrawing money from the ATM on Saturday.The woman told News 3 she ...
  • Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Saturday, August 30 2014 12:01 AM EDT2014-08-30 04:01:33 GMT
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
Powered by WorldNow

1732 Valley View Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35209

Telephone: 205.933.1313
Fax: 205.323.3314
Email: newstips@alabamas13.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.