A Georgia woman has been arrested after authorities discovered four elderly men being kept against their will in her basement. Emma Heard was reportedly running an illegal care home where she kept mentally disabled men.
Police arrested Heard after they discovered that she had kept the men in her basement without good access to running water or food. They discovered the men during a search of the home on Thursday, May 14. Heard also allegedly stole money out of the men's bank accounts.
According to the police, the men did not have access to proper bathroom facilities. Instead, they had a five-gallon bucket in which to relieve themselves. They also only had a few water bottles among them. Though the men were allowed in the backyard, they were forbidden to leave.
Her alleged captives reportedly suffer from mental disabilities.
George Foster spoke with CBS 46 about his experience being held captive by Heard. Although not one of the eldery men discovered by authorities in Heard's house this year, Foster was reportedly captured by Heard two years earlier and held in her basement for two weeks. Heard allegedly lured him into her car by inviting him to "party."
“I didn’t know anything at all until about the middle of the night when I was locked up in a room,” Foster told the news station. “I kept on begging her to take me home, take me home.”
Luckily for Foster and the rest of the men, Heard is behind bars after an anonymous tip informed authorities that she had been imprisoning people in her basement.
“It’s kind of rough and nasty looking,” Foster said of the basement where he was kept. “You’re locked down in a room. You can’t take the shoes off your feet.
“She kept keeping me there day after day after day,” he said. “Some of those guys have been there a long time.”
He was eventually released. Foster reportedly kept having seizures, and he says Heard most likely released him because she was worried he would die.
“I told her, I don’t have my medication with me,” he recounted.
After the incident, Foster went to police, but there was apparently no way to prove that Foster had been held there against his will and so Heard could not be arrested.
Ronald McKinney, another resident of Heard’s home, believes that the charges against Heard are ludicrous.
“It’s bogus,” McKinney told CBS 46.
He asserts that the men were not held against their will and that they were well fed.
“I think one guy was slow because he was a boxer,” he said, “and he took one too many punches.
“We were all out there while [the police] were searching the house,” he continued, “and they were trying to ask them, and nobody spoke negatively about her. The only thing I said about her is that she has a temper and she has her ways, but she didn’t mistreat anybody.”
McKinney did concede that there was no access to water or bathrooms in the basement. He insisted though that the men were able to take care of themselves and decide whether or not they wanted to leave.
"We've been here maybe three or four years now," McKinney added, "and in that time, police have been here a dozen times for various things."
Heard was arrested in May. She was charged with 4 counts of false imprisonment, a count of elder abuse, and felony operating an unlicensed personal care home.
Photo Credit: WSBTV