Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Warning: Elders Considered Soft Targets

Doug Guthrie and Charles E. Ramirez / The Detroit News

Violence against seniors on the rise; observers fault economy
More financial scams, brutal crimes reported

Eastpointe widow Joann Hornberger, 77, rented an upstairs bedroom to a 43-year-old boarder because she needed the money and help around the house.

On June 6, 2007, the man came home drunk, beat Hornberger and tried to smother her with a pillow. He shot up the house, terrorizing her until dawn. Friends found Hornberger battered but alive.
"It was a nightmare," said Hornberger, who is sharing her experience as a volunteer at local senior centers. "I had known him for about four years ... I thought he could stay with me and maybe do some odds and ends around the house."

Senior citizens increasingly are being victimized by desperate people looking for soft targets in Michigan's hard economy.

Fraud and violence against the elderly are on the rise throughout Metro Detroit, according to law enforcement and advocates for senior citizens.

"It's stunning, the level of violence we are beginning to see," said Thomas Wenzel, principal Wayne County prosecutor for elder abuse.


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