A woman who abandoned four senior citizens in an elderly group home last month and allegedly fled with more than $1,000 of their money isnot likely to face arrest any time soon, since her capture isn't a high priority, county police said.
"There's really not a lot we cando to find her," said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a county police spokesman. "It's a basic theft case."
The four senior citizens, three of whom were in their 80s, were living in an unlicensed elderly group home run by Kimberly Boffen, of the 4900 block of Avoca Avenue in Ellicott City.
Boffen provided personal care for the four residents at the Avoca Avenue home. Each ofthe residents paid Boffen a monthly fee of between $600 and $700, which covered room, board and health care expenses.
On June 17, Boffen and her husband packed their belongings into a van and left, aftercollecting at least one of the monthly checks in advance, police said. The residents and their families were forced to look for placementat other facilities.
Family members said they feel slighted not only by the police, but also by the lack of watchdog restrictions on elderly facilities.
"It seems wrong that someone can just walk in, set up shop, and then leave after making a quick score at the expenseof old people who depend on them," said the daughter of a diabetic woman who lived at the home.
A relative of another resident swore out an arrest warrant in county District Court, charging Boffen with theft of $700 in services.
Police say such warrants are typically filed with hundreds of others, and it is rare for one to take precedence. The Boffen warrant will get no special treatment, police said.
"We just simply don't have the time to investigate the whereabouts of every single person named in our arrest warrant file," Gardner said.
Usually, file warrants are served during traffic stops or other chance encounters that the individuals may have with a police officer.
For county social service and housing officials as well, there is little likelihood of prosecution.
A county housing inspector found no problems with the house during a routine inspection last month,and Boffen did not appear to be in any violation of health codes, said James Rawle, supervisor of the county Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits.
Boffen rented the Avoca Avenue home and had applied for a county permit that would have allowed her to sublet the home to three people.
Since four people were at the home, she was in violation, although the offense is a relatively minor one, Rawle said.
"We treat this just as a rooming situation. If they had amended their application, it would have been acceptable," Rawle said.
Boffen started the group home sometime around early April and did notregister or license the facility through the state Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, as is required by law. As of late last week, no fines had been issued in Boffen's name.
For the four families whose relatives were left behind, the lack of enforcement brings frustration and questions.
"We had paid for $330 in services that she never gave us. I suppose I could go over and get an arrest warrant, too, but what good would it do?" said the daughter of a 74-year-old resident of the home, who asked that her and her mother's name be withheld.
"We were really hurt by what happened. You know, you trust people, and then they go and do something like this," said the woman, who lives in Ellicott City. Her mother has since been relocated to an area nursing home.
The woman said she usually paid Boffen $660 a month for services and the facility "seemed to do a decent job." Boffenadministered insulin injections to at least one of the residents, she said.
In the future, she said, she will make sure she is enrolling her mother in a licensed facility. "I guess I should have checked,but this home was close by and seemed nice," the woman said.
The daughter of an 86-year-old man who had been staying at the home said she obtained the arrest warrant against Boffen because she had just paid $700 in advance for another month's care. Now, she said, she feels bitter and frustrated.
"I've been through quite a bit, and I just don't want to talk about it anymore," she said. "At this point, it's just a dead issue. I don't think anyone cares."