Tahlequah Woman Accused Of Exploitation Of Elderly, Child Neglect

Thursday, August 23rd 2012, 9:46 pm
By: News On 6

An investigation into a case of bogus checks lead police to a malnourished seven-year-old girl and a home covered with cat feces.

Tuesday, police in Tahlequah arrested 34-year-old Malana Castillo.

She's now sitting in the Cherokee County Detention Center, waiting to be charged with exploiting the elderly, but she could also face charges of child neglect.

It's a case that goes from the Grace Living Center in Tahlequah to a modest home only a few miles away.

Karen Taylor and her friend Randy Edgar now live in the home, which they say Castillo left in deplorable condition.

"This is absolutely horrifying," Taylor said.

8/22/2012 Related Story: Tahlequah Woman Arrested For Exploiting Elderly Man In Nursing Home

Police say Castillo befriended a man in his late 50s, who was living at the Grace Living Center.

She told the man, according to police, that she loved him and was going to take care of him, but to do that, she needed money.

His bank had concerns about his account, because he had overspent on his debit card.

Detectives said the bank closed the man's account, but Castillo still had his checks and was having him cash them and hand the money over to her. They said, from March of this year until about the end of July, she bilked him out of $3,000 a month.

Investigators eventually tracked Castillo down to her Tahlequah home.

When police arrived to question her about the bogus checks, they found a home covered with cat feces and Castillo's malnourished seven-year-old daughter, who detectives say, looked like a four-year-old.

Castillo moved out of the home before she was arrested.

Taylor and Edgar have spent the past few weeks giving it a thorough cleaning before moving in.

"It was terrible. There was feces all over this place," Taylor said.

Taylor said the sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets were all plugged up with paper and that it looked like the little girl went to the bathroom wherever she could.

She said she couldn't imagine that someone could live in such conditions.

"I guess the most shocking thing was to know that there was a child who lived in here," Taylor said.

Detectives said the man who Castillo is accused of stealing the money from is not cooperating with the investigation, and that because he is legally his "own responsible partner," the living center could not do anything to stop him from giving her the money.

A representative from the Grace Living Center said, "The facility is cooperating fully with authorities to help ensure the rights of the resident are protected and that those responsible are held accountable. Although the alleged crimes occurred outside of our facility, we take seriously the responsibility to take appropriate steps when a resident is involved."