UPDATE: Dead Horse Incident Turns into Case of Elder Neglect; Caregiver Charged

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UPDATE 9/8/14 @ 9 p.m.
MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- We told you earlier this summer about a dead horse found hanging in the garage of an apparently abandoned home.

The investigation turned into a case of elder neglect, and the homeowner's caretaker has been arrested.

State Police were called to a home off Dry Ridge Road near Milton after a cleaning crew discovered the horse and a couple dead dogs on the property.

The man who lived there was nowhere to be found.

His caretaker was tracked down by investigators Lillie Beth Young, 46, of Wayne County is charged with neglect of an incapacitated adult. She was booked into the Western Regional Jail on July 31.

Vietnam veteran Julius "Max" Vierstra’s family says he had several health problems. State Police say Young allowed his home to become littered with trash, feces, and rodents.

State Police discovered Young had taken Vierstra to live at her home in Genoa back in March.

After she was arrested, the 65-year-old Vierstra was taken to a rehab center in Huntington where he died Aug. 26.

Vierstra didn't have any family here locally. His cousins arrived Sunday in their RV, all the way from California.

After looking through the deplorable house, they say they were mortified to see how their loved one spent his last days.

"It’s just total neglect,” cousin Daryl Hofstee said. “It's a shame. It really hurts us very dearly."

“You wouldn't have your own dog live in that filth," cousin Janice Harris, who’s the executor of the estate, said.

Harris believes Young took away Vierstra’s cell phone and computer, and possibly more.

"I think she was a liar and a taker,” Harris said. “She had control over his bank accounts, and he had a good income coming in, and that was her pot of gold."

State Police say Young told them she had medical power of attorney over Vierstra.

According to the criminal complaint, Young claimed the reason the house became so deplorable was because she had to drive to Mason County all the way from Wayne County, and it had “gotten away from her.”

Young has a hearing set Sept. 25 at the Mason County Courthouse.

“I hope she’s in jail a long time,” Hofstee said. “That’s where she belongs.”

Vierstra is originally from Massachusetts.

Young told State Police she'd worked with him for 6 years.



UPDATE 7/16/14 @ 2:35 p.m.
MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- State Police with the Mason County detachment are still investigating a case where a dead horse was found hanging from the ceiling of a garage.

The horse and remains of dogs were found at a home near the Cabell-Mason County line last week by workers who were hired by the homeowners association to clean up the exterior of the property.

Lt. Michael Baylous says the man who lives in the home was found in Wayne County. There's no word yet on exactly where he was found.

He says troopers had still not located his caregiver as of Wednesday morning.

An employee at the Mason County detachment said investigators were still out on the case as of Wednesday afternoon.

Baylous says they're still working to determine if any laws have been broken.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest.



ORIGINAL STORY
MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A couple of men who were sent to a house to do exterior cleaning found a much more grisly scene than they could've anticipated.

Two dogs were discovered dead in a bag, and a horse was found chained up hanging from the garage ceiling.

It's a home where no one currently lives.

Neighbors are left wondering who did this and why.

Tim McCarty lives next door.

"I went over there and looked at it,” McCarty said. “It's pretty foul. It looks like someone gutted a horse and hung it up like a deer."

We're told the homeowner is an elderly veteran and for several years has had a female caretaker.

McCarty says they kept a horse in the back yard in a chain-link cage for several weeks, and then it disappeared.

The homeowners' association hired workers to do some exterior cleaning at the home off Dry Ridge Road past Milton.

One of the workers took pictures months ago of deplorable conditions inside, including human waste on the floor. That worker, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he reported those conditions to authorities months ago.

"No one should be allowed to live like that,” McCarty said. “Whoever was supposed to be taking care of him wasn't doing a good job."

The president of the homeowners association, Ron Foster, says problems with that female caregiver have been going on for years.

Foster says she'd leave garbage piled up in the front yard. He says they filed a court injunction to get that to stop, but that only angered her, and the horrible messes continued.

No one was home while we were there Friday evening.

Neighbors say they’ve heard the homeowner was recently moved into a nursing home.

McCarty said troopers came to his home Thursday trying to locate the homeowner.

State Police say the house is near the Mason County line.

An employee with the Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter says they will have an officer out to check on the scene soon, possibly this weekend.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this developing story.


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