(WJBK) - Investigators have discovered a state employee charged with trying to hide the death of an elderly man who died in her care was running an unlicensed nursing home to make money on the side.
"The family was hurt. They trusted Annie Walls and they said they trusted her because she's a church-going lady," said Ypsilanti Police Det. Annette Coppock.
It's a sick feeling, says the family of one of the disabled adults under the care of 57-year-old Walls. She was arraigned Wednesday on charges of concealing the death of an individual and failing to report the discovery of a dead body.
"Especially someone who works in the capacity that she does with the state should have known better," Coppock said.
Employed with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for decades, Ypsilanti police say Walls has been operating at least two group homes on the side - one on Monroe and another on Madison.
"She has not tried to do anything that was devious or deceptive," said defense attorney Robert McCoy.
Police say on Sunday, Walls received a phone call that client Everette Thompson was lying on the floor of his bedroom on Monroe, unresponsive. Instead of calling 911, police say she wrapped the 64-year-old in a blanket and, with the help of her brother and another disabled client, moved him to the other home, and then called 911.
"We got information that she called her husband to go to the Monroe Street address to pick up the clients there who were witnesses to this, and take them out of the home and go buy them pop or a coat," Coppock said.
Police say after interviewing those witnesses, they also learned of their horrendous living conditions, referencing knobs taken off of the stove and clients told to remain only in their bedrooms.
"There was no food in the home. The home is filthy. There is no toilet paper. There are no batteries in the smoke detectors if there was a fire," Coppock said.
Another family member says his disabled aunt had been staying on Monroe and he was told she was just staying with women, and was being monitored 24/7. Both turned out to be lies.
"She can barely write her name. She speaks very little," Coppock said.
Police also say Walls' relative, who is a convicted felon and registered sex offender, had been checking in on her clients.
"This is an independent living facility. These people were placed there by the county mental health," McCoy said.
While a judge granted Walls a personal bond Wednesday, police say they're working with the state to file additional charges including fraud, and are working to place a few more people who are still inside those homes.