November 16, 2013
By Anita Reding
Phoenix Staff Writer
A Park Hill woman is accused of abusing her mother and is facing felony charges.
Three counts of abuse by caretaker were filed this week in Cherokee County against Ella Milstead, 53, who is the legal guardian of her mother, Opal Murphy.
Court documents state that Milstead physically abused her mother, not providing her medications and using her financial funds for her own personal use.
The Department of Human Services was notified of allegations of caretaker neglect, caretaker abuse, caretaker exploitation, and financial neglect by Ella Milstead, according to court documents. A social worker went to Murphy’s home, which is also in Park Hill, Aug. 19 and Sept. 10. Murphy, who had bruises on her arm and back, told the social worker that “Ella had hit her” and “Ella grabbed her arm and threw her down on the floor.”
Court documents also state that the social worker determined that there were “several medications that Murphy had not been given in months. “
Milstead stated that she is the only one who gives Murphy her medications and told the social worker she is the only person who has control of Murphy’s finances and bank account, the court document states.
When asked multiple times by the social worker to provide bank statements for six months and any receipts or verification showing how she spent her mother’s money on her mother’s care, Milstead provided only four months of bank statements and no receipts or verification. Bank statements also indicated that there were other accounts “ran by Ella of Opal’s money and that account information was not provided, ” documents state.
Murphy owns a trailer park in Park Hill and Milstead has been managing the trailer park, which includes collecting rent, since she became her mother’s guardian. There are 11 trailers at the park owned by Murphy, and each tenant pays $160 monthly in lot rent. All renters pay with either cash or money orders. Milstead admitted that she cashed the money orders from the renters and did not deposit the lot money in her mother’s account and “there is no indication as to where the cash money went,” court records state.
Milstead said that she quit her job to take care of her mother and that “she is living off Opal’s income,” court documents state. Milstead said that her mother does not have access to her money and said she is the only one with her mother’s debit card and the only one who has access to her mother’s bank account.
Court documents list exploitation totals at $24,881 — $10,566 in Social Security payments, $10,560 in rental property income and $3,755 which was transferred from another account in August.
Milstead is free on $5,000 bond and is scheduled to enter a plea during an initial court appearance Dec. 10, according to Ryan Cannonie, assistant district attorney.
Each felony count is punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years and/or by a fine up to $10,000, according to court records.
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