Pearl Harbor Survivor Victim of Neglect, Theft: Deputies

One friend says jail is "too good" for the caretaker accused of abuse

He was living in filth, his bank account was drained and his prostate cancer was undiagnosed and untreated.

Arnold Bauer, a 93-year old Pearl Harbor survivor, was discovered living in squalor in San Diego and less than 48 hours later, his paid caregiver was behind bars on $1 million bail charged with abuse and neglect.

The woman who was hired to care of the veteran was taken into custody with $9,000 in cash stuffed inside her clothing and in her room.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputies served a welfare check at a home on Euclid Avenue Jan. 25 and discovered Bauer living in a home filled with rodent droppings, trash and rotten food and inoperable bathrooms.

“Just a disaster,” said Sgt. Mark Varnau, San Diego Sheriff's Department Elder Abuse Unit.

Deputies said Bauer was holding a picture of his ship, USS Vestal AR-4, which was anchored next to USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Around him were empty containers of food and trash filling key areas of the home, including the kitchen.

“This is not care giving. To keep another human being in such conditions is inhumane,” said.Sgt. Mark Varnau, San Diego Sheriff's Department Elder Abuse Unit.  “These aren’t the conditions you'd want to keep an animal in.”

Milagros Angeles, 62, worked as the victim’s caretaker for three years. In addition to the neglect, detectives said they discovered thousands of dollars of financial abuse committed by the caretaker and placed her under arrest.

Angeles was wearing five layers of clothing when deputies arrested her, according to prosecutors. They say bundles of $100 bills were hidden inside each layer of clothing and she had a hidden money belt.

Angeles is accused of cashing a significant number of checks against Bauer's account. The prosecutor said there's evidence that the suspect sent money to banks in the Philippines.

"We had records showing about $28,000 last year. We found another $8,000 this morning," said Varnau.

Detectives are going to do a full audit on Bauer's finances since Angeles was hired.

"It could go as high as $100,000 or more," he said.

Angeles was arrested and booked into county jail on charges of elder abuse. The judge set bail at $1 million.

Neighbor Bud Hamilton said Bauer was very fit and alert and was working in his yard and climbing ladders until well in his eighties. His health declined since his wife died about five years ago.

Hamilton said he has seen Bauer and a woman he thinks was his caregiver driving into El Cajon to run errands.

Friend and fellow Pearl harbor survivor Stu Hedley said Bauer felt like he was being held prisoner by Angeles.

"He said, she won't let me use my cellphone, she won't let me go outside,"Hedley said.

Hedley didn't realize how bad things were until he went to Bauer's home on Saturday.

"He had a beard that was all dirty, his clothes were disheveled,"Hedley said.  "I was appalled when I saw the living room, it was filthy!"

When he was interviewed by detectives, it was clear that Bauer was unable to answer many of the questions they were asking.

"He was unable to stay on track," said Varnau. "So on the scale of being a victim, he's very childlike."

Bauer was sent to the V.A. Medical Center where it was discovered that he has prostate cancer and a severe urinary tract infection. He also suffers from dementia.

“There is indication that the neglect of this individual caused the medical condition that he is being treated for,” said Deputy District Attorney Danielle Hickman.

Angeles was ordered to have no contact with the victim in this case and to stay 100 yards away.

The bank noticed Bauer had not been in since October of last year. After several calls to his home, they became concerned and called Adult Protective Services which alerted the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Bauer has a daughter and son living in Southern California, Hamilton said.

“Knowing what he went through in Pearl Harbor and then to treat him like that … jail is too good for her,” Hedley said.

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