We wanted to get Mom out of Willy’s house, as it was late in the fall and the house had no central heat.  We realized that Willy was holding mom against her will, but it was lining up as a “he said, she said” family fight that no one wanted to get in the middle of. It appears that Willy wanted to keep mom there with him so that he could take mom to the bank from time to time in order for her to get money out of her own account, treating her like a human ATM card.

We contacted the Office of Aging in the counties where we had filed the actions against Willy, wanting to be sure that we were in position to work with them, should the need arise. Each office was very accommodating and tried to help us all that they could. Each county’s office assigned a person to Mom’s case. We had three people, in three counties, fully briefed on the matter. Each was slightly skeptical after McKean County’s report, but we continued feeding them the real information, hoping for a way to get mom free from Willy’s grasp.

We also contacted law enforcement in each municipality where Willy had taken mom as well as the municipality where Willy lived. We were almost inventing reasons to call each one to be sure to keep them apprised of the situation.

The family was still being kept away because of the cease and desist letters sent to the sisters. The other, younger family members were afraid of Uncle Willy. “He’s a little crazy” was the general attitude of the family.

Things changed dramatically one morning when I received a frantic phone call from Reba.  One of her daughters had called Uncle Willy and asked if she could come up and see her Grandma, to which Willy responded “No one else is going to see her until she’s dead!” The granddaughter was shocked to her core. She called her mother Reba. Reba later told me that her daughter was hysterical and that it took several minutes to calm her down.

Willy, it seemed, had grown confident beyond all reason. He felt that he was going to be able to keep grandma there and control everything that related to her, including her money. Willy was an outsider within his own family for a number of years. Now he was going to be the power broker. He had what everyone wanted…Grandma.

Reba called me as soon as she hung up the phone with her daughter. She relayed her daughter’s conversation to me and was fighting back tears, thinking of her mother living in the old, cold family house. She told me that she was heading up there herself if I couldn’t do anything to get her mother out of there. I told her that I had been keeping the lines of communication open with the local police as well as the Office of Aging. I was about to make the call that changed everything.

*The names and addresses in this story are fictionalized in order to protect the real life characters (and some of them were real characters) herein.