Owner charged with elderly abuse after veterans found in ‘deplorable conditions’ in unlicensed group home

Published 3:46 pm Thursday, May 28, 2020

Six veterans were hospitalized after being found in an unlicensed group home without access to food, drinks, their medications and a phone, an Alabama sheriff said.

Deputies found the men after one resident left the home in Mobile County and got a driver to call for help Tuesday night, news outlets reported.

Once deputies arrived, Mobile County Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Burch said they found the men living in “deplorable conditions” with no access to food or drinks since the cabinets, pantries and refrigerators were locked with padlocks.

Deputies also found two men inside the home that had fallen and were not able to get up, according to a news release by the sheriff’s office. The residents were taken to a hospital after being found in “dire medical condition,” including one resident who was found with “insect activity” in his wounds, Burch told news outlets.

Officials did not immediately provide an update on their status.

“It’s sickening that anyone would treat an elderly person in this manner, especially a veteran who served our country,” Burch told WPMI-TV. “And this is the way they’re treated simply for money.”

The man who owns the home, Donny Owens, was booked into county jail on elder abuse and neglect charges. Investigators also seized prescription drugs from his personal home after the arrest, WPMI-TV reported.

The business, named Square One Life Management in state records, was registered in 2017 under Owen’s wife, Tilena Owens. Malissa Valdes-Hubert, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Mental Health, told WALA-TV the department has not certified the facility.

Tilena Owens, who is a nurse, told authorities she has been out of town for work, Burch said. She will face similar charges as her husband, he told WPMI-TV.

The couple owns another property in the county where deputies found a resident who came outside the home covered in feces and urine Tuesday night, Burch said. The resident went back inside and then refused to open the door to authorities, he said. No one opened the door when a reporter with WPMI-TV visited the house Wednesday.

Jamie Harding, associate state director with AARP Alabama, told AL.com the arrest shows the need for state lawmakers to “step in and safeguard residents” living in unlicensed facilities.

It was not immediately clear if the Donny and Tilena Owens had a lawyer who could comment on their behalf.