KEIZER, Ore. -- At 90 years old, Rosemarie Younker was afraid of the dark.
“She would block her door every night with a vacuum cleaner and her walker,” her niece Sally Bourgerie said.
Younker told her family she had good reason to be worried. Last year, 125 pills of Oxycodone disappeared from her senior independent living apartment. Younker and her family went to Keizer Police because they said they couldn’t get another prescription without a report. That’s when an officer suggested the family get a surveillance camera installed in Younker’s apartment.
Bourgerie said police told her family not to let the staff of her aunt’s complex, Avamere Court at Keizer, know about the camera. For about six weeks, Younker checked on her secret surveillance daily. It never picked up anything suspicious.
Not while she was alive.
When Younker died in July, her grieving niece went to her apartment and noticed some items were gone. She checked the surveillance camera and couldn’t believe what she saw. Just a few hours after her aunt died, the apartment manager was stealing from her.
“The cash was missing. Her jewelry was missing. She took her food, toilet paper, paper towels, towels, undershirts, nightgowns, the blanket off her bed,” Bourgerie said.
Nearly 7 months later, that apartment manager is behind bars. Charlene Turk pleaded guilty to burglary charges and will spend thirty days in jail. Her former employer, Avamere Court at Keizer, told KGW it conducts background checks, requires drug tests and that incidents of theft are very rare.
Younker’s niece said she is satisfied with the outcome but still doesn’t have proof of who stole Younker’s prescription medication. Bourgerie hopes her aunt’s story motivates others to consider cameras for their loved one’s homes. And she also wants all of us to really listen when our elderly relatives notice something missing.
“Right away they’re thinking they’re getting forgetful, they’re having dementia. And maybe that’s the case. But maybe it’s not,” Bourgerie said.