Columbus woman says drug dealers threatened her — so she took $100K from parents, police say

Forty-year-old Jennifer Elizabeth Croy was a addict who extorted money and painkillers from her ailing parents by claiming drug dealers to whom her late brother owed debts were threatening the family, a detective said Wednesday.

The 68-year-old father and 69-year-old mother estimated Croy took around $100,000 from them 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, police Cpl. Crystal Hatcher testified in Columbus Recorder’s Court.

Croy also was stealing the parents’ medications, such as Oxycodone and Xanax, either to sell or to use herself, Hatcher said, adding the father has Stage 3 cancer and is subject to renal failure. “They’re in very poor health,” she said of the parents.

And they were not safe in their home, which had no running water and no food, so they were moved into protective custody, both saying they wanted no further contact with Croy, the detective testified.

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

The brother died of an overdose in 2012.

When Hatcher moved Croy to another room to question her alone, Croy admitted she had been addicted to drugs, but claimed she now only used them off and on, said the detective, adding Croy acknowledged also that her ex-husband had custody of their children.

Police contacted Croy’s former spouse, who told them he had custody of the 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.

Hatcher said she also contacted two medical offices Croy had taken the parents to. The staff at one said the parents were there last week, and reported they were afraid of Croy and did not want her in the examining room with them, the detective said. When Croy was left in the lobby, she began shouting and banging on doors, demanding she be allowed in with her parents, Hatcher said.

The staff at a pain clinic reported that Croy had come there looking intoxicated and so inappropriately dressed that she was asked to leave and return when she was dressed properly, the corporal said.

Croy was charged with two counts each of exploiting an elderly or disabled person and of trafficking an elderly or disabled adult. Judge Julius Hunter set her bonds at $25,000 each on the exploitation charges and $35,000 each on the trafficking counts.

The Georgia Council on Aging says such crimes are increasingly common:

“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.”