Caretaker accused of stealing from elderly



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Posted on May 3, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Updated Friday, May 3 at 6:00 PM

AUSTIN -- Anita Sybesma says the woman she trusted to care for her 94-year-old mother took advantage of her, and now that caretaker is facing a felony credit card abuse charge.

Sybesma describes her mother, Atha Crist, as strong and very independent. Even at 94 and suffering from dementia, Sybesma says her mother prefers to live in her own home with a caretaker who checks on her daily.

A former caretaker, Kimberly McMahan, is now charged with stealing from her.

"It was I guess, a horrifying realization that this type of crime was actually committed against my mom, my mom," said Sybesma.

Sybesma noticed something wrong when checking on her mom's finances at the end of February.

"I got into the bank account and could see the checks and went 'she didn't write these checks.' It is her signature, but the rest of it was not her writing," she explained.

According to an arrest affidavit, McMahan used Crist's credit card to buy personal items. Her daughter says the charges totaled to nearly $3,000.

"They went to Wal-Mart and Kimberly took her into the store and made her sit in the front while she went shopping," Sybesma said. "It's scary. It's heartbreaking, it's disappointing to realize that people like this still exist."

And this is not an isolated case. Adult Protective Services investigated more than 3,000 in Travis County last year, they found more than 1600 victims of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

"Its more common than even the numbers suggest," said APS Spokesperson Julie Moody.

Moody says everyone should look for the warning signs.

"We all have elderly neighbors, I think it's a good idea to always check up on those neighbors to make sure they're doing OK," Moody said.

Something Sybesma learned the hard way.

"How can people do this?" Sybesma said. "To say you're taking care of a 94-year-old woman and pretend to care and steal from her and leave her alone in vulnerable spaces, it just breaks my heart."

McMahan worked for Senior Helpers for two years. The company says she is no longer an employee, but did undergo several background checks and interviews and is now listed in a state employee misconduct registry. KVUE News was unable to reach her for comment.