Elder Abuse Suspect Dons Disguise to Get Close to Victim

Caught on camera: Estranged wife of elderly La Jolla resident was armed with a pen and legal docs, family said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A La Jolla woman, in disguise and armed with a pen and legal documents, tried to visit the elderly man she’s accused of abusing, family members told NBC 7 Investigates' Dave Summers. (Published Friday, May 30, 2014)

    A La Jolla woman, in disguise and armed with a pen and legal documents, tried to visit the elderly man she’s accused of abusing, family members told NBC 7.

    Robert Stella and family members recently filed a restraining order request against Victoria Turner after a surprise visit at the care facility where Stella is undergoing treatment.

    Stella, who just turned 91, was rescued from the garbage and filth in his own home last March. Family members claim his estranged wife, Turner, kept the home cluttered and filthy and – at times – tied Stella to his bed.

    When Stella was removed from the home malnourished and dehydrated, he was hospitalized in ICU for days.

    He is now recovering at a rehab facility where, according to daughter Michelle Redfield, Turner used a disguise and fictitious purpose to get close to him.

    NBC7 Investigates obtained a copy of the security video and the restraining order affidavits connected to the April 5 visit.

    In them, Turner appears to have worn a grey wig and dark glasses and held a large vase of wild flowers in front of her face as she entered Stella’s rehab facility.

    “They were completely wilted, white roses so they were mostly brown. [Staff members] all agreed it was creepy,” Redfield said.

    When asked her name, "She simply said ‘Church’ and kept walking," a certified nurse assistant said in a statement.

    “Her face was hidden behind a vase of flowers and it appeared to me that she was trying to cover herself," the staffer said.

    They also say she brought a pen, pair of reading glasses and legal documents for Stella to sign.

    The unwanted visitor may have temporarily slipped past staffers but she did not get by the security camera view.

    “To see him in that video, I just, it was like a child looking so vulnerable,” Stella’s daughter said.

    Normally Stella has been in good spirits but Redfield said that mood changed during this encounter with Turner, his estranged wife.

    “My father recognized her. Once she left and we had shown pictures to the nurses. They knew it was her,” Redfield said.

    While she has not been charged with a crime, Turner, nearly 40 years her husband’s junior, is the subject of a San Diego Police elder abuse investigation and county animal neglect and cruelty investigations.

    At family court, when questioned about the rehab center visit, Turner did not answer and quickly walked the other way.

    In the center’s surveillance video, obtained by NBC 7 Investigates, Turner found Robert in his wheelchair alone in the cafeteria.

    Stella told his daughter that Turner put reading glasses on his face and a pen in his hand.

    Eight times, Turner told him to sign changes to his will, give her control over his medical treatment and add her to his estate trust, Stella told his daughter.

    “She starts really moving in on him physically and you see him moving, moving further away from her,” Redfield said of the surveillance video.

    Stella refused to sign any documents and the commotion drew nearby staffers.

    They escorted Turner to a nearby hallway while she tried to make a phone call.

    The video doesn't show it but Redfield says Turner took off while staffers went to get an administrator.

    According to the nurse assistant’s statement in the affidavit, Turner was able to gain access to the patient by coming in the back way earlier than most people would arrive.

    She was able to bypass security measures put in place to protect Stella that included a fictitious name on the door of his room and a password requirement for visitors.

    The Redfield’s don't blame administrators for the security breech but the incident has put the rehab facility on high alert.

    NBC 7 Investigates is showing only parts of the recording from multiple cameras. We are not identifying the rehab facility nor staff members