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Fugitive Caretaker Possibly Tied To Two Elderly Women’s Disappearances, Police Say
Kishia Mitchell, accused of exploiting patients in her care, is being sought by authorities in Georgia.
A Georgia caregiver who is on the run from law enforcement after being accused of abusing a number of patients in her care may also be tied to the disappearance of two elderly women, police say.
Kishia Mitchell, 50, is wanted for questioning in the disappearance of two of her patients, 59-year-old Linda Kimble and 68-year-old Linda Williams, Gwinnett County authorities announced Monday.
Williams, however, was found on Tuesday in the care of Adult Protective Services after police received a number of tips this week. Kimble's whereabouts are still unknown.
Both women were believed to have been in the care of Mitchell at the time they vanished. Authorities issued a warrant for Mitchell’s arrest on Oct. 18 after she violated her probation but haven’t yet charged her in connection either woman’s disappearance.
“No matter the criminal charges against Kishia Mitchell, at the end of the day, we just want to make sure these two ladies are okay,” Cpl. Michele Pihera of the Gwinnett County Police Department told Oxygen.com.
The accusations against Mitchell began circulating in mid-October when Kimble was first reported missing. The woman’s daughter, Richetta Henderson, told investigators her mother had been discharged from a hospital in late summer and had been in Mitchell’s care at a health care facility known as Auxilium Care for several months.
In September, Mitchell allegedly told Henderson that Kimble would soon be transferred from her current facility in Snellville, about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, to a new care home. Henderson said she tried to visit her mother but claimed that Mitchell was elusive about arranging a visit.
“Richetta tried to visit her mother several times but Kishia made several excuses,” detectives said in a police incident report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Mitchell allegedly suggested that Henderson wait a period of three weeks to allow her aging mother to “get settled” at the new care home. But when Henderson confronted her about the address or phone number of her mother's new home, Mitchell stopped replying, police said.
Henderson then made a shocking discovery. She drove to an address she'd previously used to send Mitchell a check, but found the property vacant. The puzzled Henderson then dialed up Mitchell, who admitted “her mom had moved” but still refused to provide an address. Henderson filed a missing persons report with authorities.
When police reached Mitchell on the phone, she told them a woman named Rochelle Harrison had Kimble in her care and provided detectives with a phone number. Police said they couldn't reach the supposed woman and subsequently were unable to make further contact with Mitchell.
About a week later, police received another troubling phone call involving Mitchell.
Authorities were dispatched to a Wells Fargo Bank in Stone Mountain, Georgia on Oct. 12 after receiving reports of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, officers made contact with a man who identified himself as Braden Washington.
It became apparent that Washington, who was also a care home patient, had wandered out of the facility where he was supposed to be living and he allegedly identified Mitchell as his caretaker. The 26-year-old told police he “walked out the house to get some food” and later stopped by the bank to get his “allowance” because “that’s where Ms. Mitchell got her money,” according to a separate police incident report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Investigators learned the man hadn’t seen Mitchell in two days and hadn't eaten in that time. Law enforcement took the man back to his care home. Inside, there were nine unsupervised adults with “varying levels of special needs.” Neither Mitchell nor any other caretaker were found on the premises and the other patients hadn’t eaten or taken their medication in a number of days, police said.
Mitchell was subsequently charged with two counts of exploitation of a disabled or elderly person and two counts of having an unlicensed personal care home, arrest warrants show.
On Feb. 12, another woman came forward to authorities, claiming her mother, too, was in Mitchell’s care and was missing, according to another police report obtained by Oxygen.com. Wilhelmena Thomas told detectives that her mother, Linda Williams was prone to "wander off at times," and that she hadn't seen her since October; the last time she heard from her was at Christmas.
However, she stated that sometime in January, her mother’s caretaker left a cryptic voicemail stating she wasn’t able to care for her mother any longer and that Williams would soon be released to Adult Protective Services. However, the agency didn’t immediately have any record of Thomas’ elderly mother in their system. She only surfaced in the agency's care after authorities received more tips this week.
"Somebody called in and said this is the house she’s at and we went in and located her," Collin Flynn, a Gwinnett County police corporal, told Oxygen.com Tuesday.
Police are now investigating whether further elder abuse charges may be pressed against Mitchell now that Williams has turned up.
There’s currently no evidence to suspect that foul play is involved in Kimble's disappearance, but authorities are concerned the 68-year-old may need medical attention, and believe that Mitchell likely knows her location. Still, authorities are holding out hope that they'll find Kimble alive.
“That’s the hope,” Flynn stated. “In cases like this you could never be too sure. It’s just too early to tell until we can talk to Kishia Mitchell.”
Flynn confirmed that investigators are also looking at the possibility that Mitchell dropped off Kimble at other care home locations. Police currently don’t have any leads as to Mitchell’s whereabouts.
“We do not have any idea where she is,” Flynn added. “That’s anybody’s guess.”
Authorities also cautioned the public to take extreme care when hiring caretakers to look after aging loved ones and relatives.
“As family members we just need to do our research on these caretakers,” Pihera, the Gwinnett County police corporal added. “Our parents take care of us in the early stages of our live and it’s important that we reciprocate.”
Authorities are urging anyone with relevant information to Kimble's disappearance, or Mitchell’s whereabouts, to contact Gwinnett County detectives at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.