Caretaker accused of stealing thousands from elderly woman

News 12 NBC 26 / Wednesday, November 2, 2016

GLASCOCK COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A Glascock County investigation is stopped in its tracks.

State documents say Timothy Pirtle exploited and abused his Power of Attorney as caretaker of an elderly woman, but now he's dead, and the victim's family is in a legal battle for closure.

Just weeks before officers were ready to serve a warrant, the Coroner says Pirtle committed suicide.

Just as officers were closing in on him, witnesses found 58-year-old Timothy Pirtle dead in his driveway. It was an abrupt ending to an investigation that was just getting started.

"I knew where I had to go as far as more bank records, and I was really getting close to the point of actually conducting an interview with Mr. Pirtle and very possibly warrants within the next 90 to 120 days," Glascock County's Chief Deputy Jeremy Kelley said.

According to the state report, Pirtle was the caretaker and Power of Attorney for Willie Bell Reese, an 89-year-old woman who lived at Gibson Health and Rehabilitation, but those documents say he abused that trust for his own gain.

"He was canceling appointments that she needed, had made comments to the nursing staff that the medicine cost too much and was also relocating some of her finances and funds into accounts that she had no knowledge of," Chief Deputy Kelley said.

A report from Georgia Adult Protective Serves says the family found $50,000 in a Regions bank account that Reese didn't know about. It also said Pirtle "didn't always pay the funds at the nursing home" and he couldn't explain where money from her rental properties was going.

"I do hate it for them because they want to see somebody that took advantage of their family member, they want to see justice done," Chief Deputy Kelley said. "It leaves them with an openness. It really does."

With no one alive to prosecute, the case is closed. Chief Deputy Kelley says for other families protecting their loved ones, sometimes the more eyes the better.

"You can have joint Power of Attorney. You can have somebody that's medical Power of Attorney. You can also have somebody that is financial Power of Attorney. You can separate that out," Chief Deputy Kelley said.

It's a painful case for both families. Chief Deputy Kelley says cases of exploitation of the elderly are on the rise since the population is aging.

If you suspect something is not right, report it to your local law enforcement or to Adult Protective Services by clicking here.

Local attorney Vic Hawk says it is relatively easy to change a Power of Attorney. Technically you can revoke a Power of Attorney orally, but Hawk suggests having several witnesses present. He says putting it in writing is better.

If you want to change the current Power of Attorney, Hawk suggests consulting a lawyer. He says getting a notarized Power of Attorney could run as cheap as $100. He also urges careful consideration when choosing a Power of Attorney, someone with a history of trust because "otherwise it's a grab bag."