No charges for caretakers after 4 vulnerable adults went missing for days in Pierce County
TACOMA, Wash. - Pierce County prosecutors are not yet filing charges against two women who were arrested after four vulnerable adults went missing for several days. But charges could come if new evidence is uncovered.
The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office released the following statement on Thursday:
"We have reviewed the case and decided we will not be filing charges at this time, but the investigation is on-going. The suspects, two state-contracted caretakers, were booked on suspicion of Kidnapping and Criminal Mistreatment. At least one of the caregivers appears to be a vulnerable adult.
"A kidnapping charge is problematic because the main caregiver, who was clearly in distress, tried to turn the adults in her care over to the state when she went to DSHS seeking help. A criminal mistreatment charge requires evidence that someone was deprived the necessities of life, which the investigation at this point has not shown. If follow-up investigation finds such evidence, we can revisit that issue.
"It is regrettable that a caregiver seeking help from DSHS was denied it, and that fact makes proving a case like this beyond a reasonable doubt problematic. We are gratified to know these vulnerable adults are safe and are in new placements."
Four vulnerable adults were found safe Wednesday at a Tacoma hotel and their two caretakers were booked into the Pierce County Jail for investigation of kidnapping and criminal mistreatment.
Authorities said the Department of Social and Health Services received an email Wednesday morning from the caregivers stating that they were at an Extended Stay America on S. 48th Street.
According to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, the vulnerable adults spent three nights in a van. They had access to food but not for anything personal hygiene-related, according to deputies.
The four were last seen on Monday and they haven't been heard from by their families in several days.
The four and their caretakers were last seen at the Department of Social and Health Services Office in Tacoma just before 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 23.
At that stop, one of their caretakers reportedly expressed concerns for her safety and for the safety of the clients in her adult family home and was looking for a place to take her clients.
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