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Woman accused of elder abuse after mother found in deplorable conditions in Memphis

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis police arrested a woman after her 85-year-old mother was found living in what a first responder called the worst case of neglect he has ever seen.

The daughter said she was her mother’s primary caregiver.

“I’d never leave my mother in a mess like that. I wouldn’t can’t,” said one neighbor.

Neighbors say they are shocked by the allegations against 57-year-old June Harber. Police say someone called 911 June 16. When police showed up, investigators say they found 85-year-old Betty Harber covered in bed bugs, feces, and urine, sleeping in a heavily soaked mattress on the floor.

Police say the odor coming from the house was so strong that it prevented officers from entering. Memphis Fire Department paramedics wore hazmat suits to remove the woman from her house and load her into an ambulance. She was suffering from pneumonia, malnutrition, dementia, and pressure sores.

One neighbor who, did not want to be identified, said she has never seen the older woman, but has seen her daughter on the front porch. She said the debris in the front yard always seems to be there.

“It’s been reported multiple times. They’ve moved it around. They’ve covered it, but it never completely leaves. It’s an eyesore,” the neighbor said.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich says elder abuse is on the rise.

“It’s a growing problem. They’ve reviewed 300 cases this year,” she said.

Weirich says elder abuse is a priority in her office. She says the laws have been strengthened and will get even tougher July 1 when new laws take effect in Tennessee.

“Magistrates and judicial commissioners will no longer be able to release someone accused of an elder abuse crime until that person has been held for 12 hours,” said Weirich.

Weirich says that gives agencies time to remove the abused person from a harmful situation.

June Harber is charged with aggravated neglect and aggravated abuse. Weirich says if you suspect an elderly person is being abused, contact law enforcement and let someone know.

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