Guardian Sought For Recluse

Attorney, Trustees Repair Crofton Home While Woman Is Hospitalized

March 14, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

While Mary Dale Mitchell recovers in Crownsville Hospital Center, lawyers and trustees are continuing to try to repair and perhaps sell or rent her dilapidated Crofton home.

Mitchell, who was hospitalized after she reportedly pushed a Crofton police officer last July, hadbeen living for six years in a house without electricity, plumbing and phone service.

She was charged with assaulting a police officer after county officials, under court order, came to fix her home in the 1700 block of Regents Park Road East.

Mitchell's court-appointed lawyer, DouglasTwigg, said Mitchell has been found not-criminally responsible for the assault and said his client is making progress in the hospital.

"She has been improving," he said. "She is doing pretty well. She has been extremely cooperative with me and everyone else."

Mitchell,who Twigg says may be 52-years-old, has frustrated officials and neighbors for years.

On May 14, Circuit Judge James Cawood order Mitchell to bring her house up to county code. That order went unheeded and a month later, the judge appointed a trustee and said the county could go into the home and make repairs.

According to court testimony, county inspectors found piles of garbage in the home, along with human waste on the floor, scorch marks on the ceilings and empty bottles of alcohol and cigarette packs strewn about the living room.

Mitchell was arrested soon after Cawood ordered county officials to gointo the house and make repairs. She has been hospitalized ever since.

In the past 10 months, the county has mowed her lawn, trimmed her hedges and made some repairs to the outside of the home. A local Methodist church group has painted the home.

"The exterior of the house doesn't look anything like it used to," he said.

Twigg said her court-appointed trustee, Annapolis lawyer Thomas Callahan, has gone through the home and inventoried all the belongings. Mitchell's son, Brian, who lives in Atlanta, has come and claimed his property.

Twigg said he is seeking someone to take over guardianship of the property. Duties would include finding some way to pay for repairs -- estimated at around $25,000 -- and finding a way to keep up the mortgage payments.

If Mitchell is ever discharged from the hospital, Twigg said he wants to make sure she has enough money to survive. He saidher home, if fixed up, could be rented out.

"It is unsafe for herto move back in unless we can be sure she can take care of herself in it," he said.

Twigg said he and Callahan have sought public funds to repair the home, but could not come up with anything. He said a variety of sources are being considered.

"I think she has some assets," Twigg said. "A trustee could give her some guidance on what to do with the property."

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