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Police: Columbus woman stealing from parents had them in home without food, water

Jennifer Elizabeth Croy
Jennifer Elizabeth Croy Muscogee County Jail

An alleged addict already accused of stealing more than $100,000 from her ailing parents while claiming drug dealers threatened them was back in court Monday, this time charged with forcing her mother and father to live in appalling conditions.

Police Cpl. Crystal Hatcher testified 40-year-old Jennifer Croy was using the only bed in the home and making her parents sleep on a sofa in a house with no running water and no food.

The stove wasn’t working; the kitchen sink was filled to the level of the counter with what looked like “black tar”; and the rooms were filthy, cluttered and in disarray, Hatcher said. Officers inspecting the premises continually were brushing off spiders that fell on them, she said.

She said Croy’s 68-year-old father and 69-year-old mother told police they’d not had a full bath in weeks.

Authorities said the parents had been in an assisted living facility, but Croy got them out to live with her.

Croy previously was before Recorder’s Court Judge Julius Hunter on July 18, charged with two counts each of exploiting an elderly or disabled adult and of trafficking an elderly or disabled adult. Hunter sent those charges to Superior Court.

Her parents have been in protective custody since her arrest, police said.

Her new charges are two counts of neglecting an elderly or disabled person, as prohibited by this Georgia law:

“A guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident commits the offense of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident when the person willfully deprives a disabled adult, elder person, or resident of health care, shelter, or necessary sustenance to the extent that the health or well-being of such person is jeopardized.”

The penalty is one to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Previous charges

During Croy’s July 18 hearing, Hatcher testified Croy had been extorting money from her parents by claiming drug dealers to whom her late brother owed debts were threatening the family. Her brother died from an overdose in 2012.

Croy took about $110,000 from her parents over a span of 18 months to two years, monthly driving them to the bank to make withdrawals ranging from $5,000 to $8,000, Hatcher testified.

Croy also took her parents’ medications, such as Oxycodone and Xanax, either to sell or to use herself, Hatcher said, adding the father has Stage 3 cancer.

The investigation began July 16 when Croy came to police headquarters with her parents to report people were threatening them to get money and drugs, Hatcher said. Though Croy claimed the extortionists were dealers to whom her dead brother owed money, she was evasive when asked for details, the corporal said.

When Hatcher moved Croy to another room to question her alone, Croy admitted she had been addicted to drugs before, but claimed she only used them off and on, the detective said. Police then contacted Croy’s ex-husband, who told them he had custody of their children because she was addicted to pills and would not submit to a drug test, Hatcher said.

Confronted with these revelations, Croy confessed she had been getting drugs from dealers without paying up front, and they’d been contacting her later to demand payment, the detective testified.

Hunter on July 18 set Croy’s bonds at $25,000 each on the exploitation charges and $35,000 each on the trafficking counts. On Monday, he set a bond of $5,000 each on the charges of neglect, bringing the total to $130,000.

Such offenses are increasingly common, according to the Georgia Council on Aging:

“Every year an estimated 5 million, or one in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation,” the council says at “Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported.”