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World War II Marine veteran alleged victim of elder abuse
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Raquel Vernal, 41, was arrested Monday night at her father’s Kent Street home for alleged elder abuse, possible embezzlement and utility theft that Manteca Police say stretched over some five months.

The woman was charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor, according to investigating officers: elder abuse and neglect and theft or embezzlement of her dad’s income.  The misdemeanor was directly related to the theft of utility services, police said.

“You work all your life, you serve as a Marine, almost lose your life and hopefully you can be taken care of by your kids,” arresting officer Dave Brown said of the 88-year-old victim.  

He had told officers he was one of two Marines to have survived in the war served having been on the same ship.

Brown said he and other officers first responded to the home address in September when neighbors called for a welfare check on the retired resident whom they had known for years.

The officer said he was found with little or no food in the house with nothing to drink learning that a neighbor had brought water and drinks over to the residence.  There had been no air conditioning or power in the home for at least two days. He was house bound for health reasons.  

“We found he could not cook for himself and could not call, could not drive, no phone had been left there, being alone for four to five days without being contacted by the daughter,” he said.

The officers did find cookies, cough drops and chips and the water running over in the swimming pool into the neighbor’s property.  They determined that the electricity was off because the circuit breaker had been switched off.

They said they located utility bills that hadn’t been paid or kept up to date.  In going through his mail on the kitchen table they located the address of the daughter in San Leandro and a phone number on a receipt for the daughter who had been serving as the man’s caretaker.

“We contacted Adult Protective Services (APS) and it was determined he was being severely neglected by his daughter and not given the proper supervision,” the officer said.  “Since he had no means of contacting anyone, we asked how he would get help if he needed it:  ‘I guess I would just die,’” he was quoted as telling police.

Officers stood by for the arrival of APS and the daughter who didn’t arrive for four hours.

Investigators found that the man had Social Security and retirement benefits coming into his checking account every month, however much of the money was allegedly going to the daughter for other purposes within two days of the electronic deposits.

APS reportedly investigated and concurred with the Manteca Police investigation,  finding the man was not able to provide any financial explanations other than to say his daughter took care of everything. She would leave several days at a time to visit other family members.

While the charges were pending with the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, Manteca officers said they found his conditions had improved and his daughter was staying in the home with him, they said.

On Jan. 30, APS had received a report through Facebook about an elderly man allegedly being left alone on the same street and Manteca officers opened a second investigation believing their victim could be one and the same.

Brown said a neighbor had told him that they had seen the older man bathing in dirty green swimming pool water because of no running water in the house.  The patrolman said he learned that the man had been left alone for some two weeks and the only food and water came from neighbors.

San Leandro officers were sent to contact her in the Bay Area on the Jan. 30 at the request of Manteca PD.  She responded the next morning to return to Manteca and have the water turned back on, he said.

“He had been taking water from the pool to flush the toilet – that’s how he was getting around that,” the officer said.  “I contacted the water department and they got the water turned on, telling them of the situation.”

He said there was again no food or water in the house, finding the water bill actually hadn’t been paid for several months and the city meter had illegally been bypassed and damaged in the process.

“As a result of not paying their bill and damaging the meter, they had a bill accumulate of over $1,200,” the officer said.  

He added the water had been turned off in November when it was apparently bypassed,  he added.

Adult Protective Services reportedly determined that the 88-year-old man was mentally healthy and aware of his surroundings and didn’t qualify for a conservatorship – however he didn’t remember officers had been at his home in September.

“We also found subjects looting the house that the daughter had brought in there,” Brown said.  “Several subjects we ran out of there and others who were on felony probation living with the elderly male with the daughter still in the Bay Area – just living there for free.”

The district attorney has requested that the original charges be filed with the new charges in the case against the woman who is awaiting a court date.