A housekeeper and her husband have been arrested for suspected elder abuse and fraud investigation.
Housekeeper Vera Nunes, 32, was hired by 94-year-old Toronto resident Norma Marshall. According to CTV News, Marshall lost $25,000 and the majority of her jewelry and furniture after Nunes and her family moved into the home.
As Marshall’s employee, Nunes cleaned the house but also cooked for the woman and became otherwise involved in her daily life.
After the relationship had progressed, Nunes and her entire family, including 38-year-old husband Luis Serpa Da Conceicao Santos, arrived at Marshall’s doorstep with all of their possessions one day, claiming that they would be moving into the house. They quickly took over the building, even moving Marshall to a smaller bedroom.
“I had the husband and wife and the two children there, and my furniture was all gone so I didn’t really feel at home. The only place I felt at home was in my own bedroom,” Marshall said.
The elder abuse was discovered by a pharmaceutical delivery man who had frequented Marshall’s home discovered that she was acting strange and not totally comfortable with the individuals occupying her house. The man relayed his feelings about Marshall to pharmacist Selina Chan-Ying, who ultimately contacted the police.
“He felt that she was scared, so I thought, it’s time to do something,” said Chan-Ying.
Nunes and Santos have both been charged with two counts of mischief under $5,000 and mischief interfering with property.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, there were 5,961,568 known elder abuse cases in 2010. That constitutes 9.5% of the elderly population. Toronto police are urging other elderly individuals to come forward about any situations similar to Marshall’s case.
“The life savings is one thing, but what it does to you emotionally is worse. You can recover (financially). You don’t need a lot of money when you’re old, you just need your rent and some food, but you do need people around you,” Marshall said.