Elderly multimillionaire nearly dies of neglect

by: Tom Jones Updated:

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - Police are investigating a case of elder abuse in which officers suspect the victim's caretakers stole her money to pay for college tuition.

Patricia Neville, 75, lives in a home in the Lake Spivey Country Club.

When police found her in her home last October, she had wounds too graphic to describe.

Police arrested three people who had been hired to take care of her, but instead, Neville's attorney said, left her to die.

“She was near death. She was near death,” conservator Elizabeth Williams Winfield said.

Winfield said when she was appointed by the courts last November to be the conservator of Neville's estate, Neville was in poor health.

“She was extremely underweight,” Winfield said. “Dehydrated. She had several open wounds."

Clayton County police said the wounds were so severe Neville had to have surgery. She's still in the hospital.


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Police said Neville was paying Jennifer Lassen, Shelley Lovegrove and Alexis Messenger $1,000 a week to take care of her, her disabled daughter and her business, Atlanta Trucking Parts.

Officers arrested the trio after a relative became concerned about Neville's health.

“Ms. Lessen, you're charged with neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult,” Judge George said in court Monday.

Channel 2’s Tom Jones was in court when Lassen went before a judge.

“The victim did sustain injuries caused by a lack of proper care,” George said.

Winfield said the trio didn't just hurt Neville physically. She alleged they opened credit cards in Neville's name and one of them paid her Georgia State University tuition using Neville's money. GSU says none of the suspects attended the school.

“So you have greed,” Winfield said. “You have people who are, who really are just out for themselves.”