Police Incident Reports
Incidents listed are selected by the Officer In Charge of each shift that may have significant public interest. Incidents listed are not inclusive of all incidents. Requests for information can be directed to the MPD Records Unit: (608) 266-4075.
Incident TypeCheck Person
Incident Date11/24/2005 - 10:30 AM
AddressHome on Madison's eastside
Arrested / Suspect(s)n/a
DetailsOn 11/24/05 Madison Police investigated what originally was believed to be an elder abuse investigation. A 90 year-old female was transported to a local hospital via a private ambulance service, to which she later died due to complications of her health. Through a lengthy investigation it was learned that the mother had become gravely ill in the midst of her two daughters, ages 53 and 54, who have features of being developmentally disabled.
When officers checked the welfare of the two female daughters, residing on the eastside, they were surprised as to the living conditions that the mother and daughters lived in. There was exposed wiring, a non-operable refrigerator, broken hot water heater, fecal matter on the floor, floorboards exposed and a house that was layered in dirt. The television had not worked in decades and there was no radio in the home.
It was learned that one of the female daughters, age 54, had not been outside of the house in an estimated 15-20 years. She looked forward to a simple wave to the postman everyday as he had the same route for eight years. Neighbors did not know she existed.
The 53 year-old daughter occasionally went outside to the backyard or periodically shoveled, but quickly ran inside if ever approached by someone else. It is believed she had not left her home/yard since 1983. Previously she had resided outside the home, but returned to care for her father, who died in 1985. Both daughters stated they had never been to the doctor. The 53 year-old daughter did go to Madison East High School, which would have been her last public contact/record.
The family was able to pay for bills, including groceries and milk that were delivered to the house by Sentry and Golden Gernsey, from the social security payments that were directly deposited into an account.
Officers were careful in approaching the daughters as to not upset them. It was clear from their very white skin that they had not left their home. It was also clear that they were unable to care for themselves alone. Officers worked very closely with social workers to ensure their futures would be safe. Currently the daughters are in “foster care for adults” and are over stimulated by society’s trends. They were cautioned not to take them to a grocery store, yet go to a convenience store first to show the wide range of products.
The daughters did not know that they could summon help by dialing 911. While trying to find placement for the sisters, officers informed them of the use of 911 and then informed dispatch that any calls from this address should trigger an immediate police response.
Before mom fell ill, she had tasks for the daughters to do. The house became a large storage bin as items and food cans were stored in various areas. Because the refrigerator was inoperable they stored chicken in the coldest part of the house, a back room, and then rotated other items needing to be kept cool.
Over the years the family paid a neighbor to mow the grass and shovel snow. This neighbor never called police or social service for a simple “check welfare” call. A lesson to take from this case is the very basic nature of a “check welfare” call that police routinely perform on a daily basis. If someone suspects something out of the ordinary or are concerned for someone’s safety, police are more than willing to verify their welfare. It is our job.
The persistence and heartfelt concern of the officers, supervisor and social worker helped bring much needed aid and attention to these sisters who would not have known what to do. They had called the private ambulance because they looked “ambulance” up in the phonebook, not knowing of 911. The 54 year-old female had never been in a car before and was actually excited to ride in one, a police car, to a group home. Efforts will be made to keep the sisters together after they go through medical evaluations and mental health diagnosis.
Overall the sisters are reported to be in good spirits adapting to the outside world one step at a time. This case illustrates three points. If one wants to separate from the outside world, even in a city, it is possible. Secondly, know your neighbors throughout the years you live next door. Be aware of those nearby and question either to yourself or others if you haven’t seen someone in weeks, months or even years. Finally, police are more than willing to check on someone’s welfare if you have suspicions.
While driving past the Holiday light exhibit at Olin Park, the sisters were mesmerized.
Released 12/08/2005 at 10:33 AM by PIO Michael Hanson