Judge issues warrant for caregiver accused of stealing thousands from elderly couple
TACOMA, Wash. - A Tacoma family, hoping to face the caregiver accused of stealing from their dying father and grieving mother, got their day in court on Tuesday.
No sign of the defendant, but they got something else.
"I'm so glad they came to this," said Tacoma's Jean Armand, crying into the palms of her hands outside a Pierce County Superior Courtroom. "We got some justice today."
After waiting an hour and a half for defendant Katherine Jenkins to show, the judge issued a warrant for her arrest.
"It is just is like this huge weight is lifted, it’s out, there is no hiding, the world knows," said Joanne Tollefson, Jean Longchamps' daughter.
Her three children, Joanne, Joyce and Roy sat close to their mother waiting for Jenkins to arrive.
Longchamps wasn't sure she'd have the strength to face Jenkins, but said she knew she had to.
"I just need some closure, you know, I need it," she said.
Thursday will mark one year since Longchamps lost her husband Armand of 65 years.
Last July, while Armand was slipping away, police said caregiver Katherine Jenkins helped herself to the couple's banking information.
The family believes an unlocked desk drawer in the couple's dining room was easy prey.
"Why would you do that when you know he was dying," said Longchamps.
Last summer, we found the caregiver in her Tacoma home, she said she had worked for the Longchamps but had no idea Mr. Longchamps died or that money was missing.
We showed her nearly $5,000 in charges and the name 'Katherine Jenkins' and 'Kathy Jenkins' all over the couple's bank statement.
"It wasn't me. So, no I don't know who that person is and I wouldn't do something like that," said Jenkins last summer outside her Tacoma home.
After months of waiting on credit card company records, last week the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office charged Jenkins with identity theft and theft in the second degree.
She was summoned to appear in court this morning.
Longchamps and her family haven't seen Jenkins since the two days she worked in their home in May of 2016.
"I knew she was a coward because she preyed on the elderly and I think she just cemented it by not showing up," said Tollefson. "It just cements she is the coward that we know she is."
Edmonds Police Sergeant Shane Hawley said the no-shows in cases like these are not uncommon.
"If you're in to fraud and conning people that's just what you do," said Sgt. Hawley.
Edmonds Police are still looking for an accused caregiver from Mountlake Terrace.
She was charged in December, but was also a no-show in court.
"She was basically using his credit card as if it were her own," said Sergeant Hawley.
Prosecutors allege Naomi Kihato racked up $20,000 in unauthorized charges while caring for a 'vulnerable adult' over a four-month period.
Police have checked and rechecked all Kihato's last known addresses and nothing.
"It can kind of go into the wind pretty easy," said Hawley.
The sergeant said detectives usually find suspects when they trip up; they get a traffic ticket, their warrant pops up on their record and they get busted.
"A lot of times is as simple is someone runs a stop sign, ends up in another jurisdiction and we end up finding them," said Hawley.
Which is why police stress catching and reporting fraud early, always securing financial documents stored in your home and doing what the Longchamps did, reporting all suspected fraud.
"We did it for us, and hopefully, everybody else," said Tollefson.
The family's bank has reimbursed them for all the unauthorized charges.