'Finally have peace': Caregiver accused of stealing thousands from elderly couple charged
TACOMA, Wash. - A Tacoma caregiver, accused of stealing from a dying man, has been charged with identity theft and theft in the second degree.
It's a story we first brought you last Fall, when the victim's family made a shocking discovery.
On Wednesday, the family learned the caregiver they accused of wrongdoing has now been charged.
"I can't find the right words, but I'm so happy, finally, " said a frail Jean Longchamps who said she waited 10 months for this news.
"We just wanted peace."
The charges mean the caregiver that Jean and her family accused of stealing from her and her dying husband will face a judge and if convicted, could get time in jail.
Jeans also believes it means her husband of 65 years can finally rest in peace.
"I think he is up there right now."
This time last year Longchamps says Katherine Jenkins worked only two days in their home, caring for her husband in his final days.
She was hired to help with daily chores, instead the family says she helped herself to the couple's checkbook and used the routing and bank account number to set up an online account to pay credit card expenses; totaling nearly $5,000 in charges.
"Bank information was taken and used to transfer funds into an account to cover their expenses at different credit cards," said Pierce County Detective Brent Van Dyke.
"It wasn't me I don't know who that Katherine is," said Jenkins last Fall.
At the time, we confronted Jenkins, but didn't air the interview, because she had not been charged --- until now.
Jenkins told me then she's an honest person.
"It wasn't me, so, no, I don't know who that person is," said Jenkins.
"She took full advantage of their trust, " said Detective Van Dyke.
The detective insists it's critical to keep close tabs on all your banking and credit cards and to verify online charges monthly.
Van Dyke and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said catching suspicious activity early, makes it's easier to stop it and in some cases make an arrest.
Both say when inviting anyone inside your home, always think to secure sensitive financial documents.
To fight back, in 2011 the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office launched an Elder Abuse Unit.
Siz years ago they charged 19 cases and resolved 10. Last year, out of 89 elder abuse cases, 49 were charged.
Since the office began tracking such cases, prosecutors have convicted 215 defendants.
"One of the things we have found is the great majority of these offenders are people who are trusted," said Lindquist.
Longchamps said she's still not over what happened and hopes the charges will allow her to be 'happy again'.
"We always say trust but verify," said Lindquist.
The Prosecutor's office says Jenkins is due in court June 6th.
"We just wanted her to get justice," said Longchamps.
Knocks on the caregivers home on Wednesday, and our phone calls to her went unanswered.