A recent story by Kansas’ ABC Kake News told the story of a Wichita woman stealing $85,000 from an elderly man. The Wichita elder theft allegedly involved manipulating an 88-year-old Navy veteran with Alzheimer’s.
According to reporters and law enforcement agents, the perpetrator of the Wichita elder theft, Laurie Nowlin, had the elderly gentleman sign over his home and assets to her, and then proceeded to use the veteran’s estate to take lavish trips to the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and the city of Sedona in Arizona.
Though the unnamed veteran that Nowlin exploited passed away in Sept. 2019, Nowlin has been arrested and could potentially face felony charges. According to Kansas law, theft of between $25,000 and $100,000, of which the Wichita elder theft is, falls under a “severity level 7 nonperson felony,” meaning a felony in which no individual is directly harmed in the perpetration of the crime. Nowlin may also face elder abuse, financial abuse, and neglect charges.
When questioned about the Wichita elder theft case, the District Attorney’s office declined to speak specifically about the case and instead, Senior Assistant District Attorney Avery Elofsson offered several pieces of insight to citizens. One of the points Elofsson made was that when it comes to elder abuse of any kind, both the perpetrators and the people who respond to it could be anyone. He told reporters “It could be the neighbors, it could be the friends, it could be the nursing home, it could be a variety of people who realize something’s gone awry.”
Elofsson also told reporters that the Wichita elder theft case also provided an opportunity, saying “We want to educate our community, basically on understanding elder abuse.” Another advocate and registered nurse, Brie Kershen, told reporters that the Wichita elder theft shows an important part of preventing elderly family members from people who “prey specifically on our vulnerable population” is to check up on those vulnerable people. She explained that one way to prevent elders from being abused is to “Stay present in their life and be involved and alert when there are new people entering their lives. It’s important to trust your gut and if you feel like something is off, it’s worth exploring.”
In the case of the Wichita elder theft case, Laurie Nowlin is currently out on bond and will return for a future trial.
For more information about the financial exploitation of elders and how to protect your loved ones, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys’ Financial Exploitation Page.