Monday, June 18, 2018
Public safety

Gulfport police: 66-year-old woman left to die in squalor and heat

GULFPORT — Kathryn Ashe, 66 and in ill health, sat alone in her wheelchair in a trashed, roach-infested house with no air conditioning for more than a week before she died, Gulfport police said.

Some eight to 10 days before she was found dead on Friday, according to police, the caretakers moved out of the house, tired of living in squalor and heat. But they didn't take the "frail" woman with them, a police report said, leaving her with "little ability to care for herself."

Caretakers Jennifer Susan Poulos, 41, and Debra Germaine Poulos, 61, kept stopping by, police said, but never got her any help.

They were arrested on Saturday. Both now sit in the Pinellas County jail, each facing a felony charge of abuse or neglect of an aged or disabled person.

Police on Tuesday filed a charge of child neglect against Jennifer Poulos. They said her 4-year-old child, who was not identified, was also exposed to "living conditions that could be considered uninhabitable" in the house.

Gulfport police also identified the 66-year-old victim, and revealed new details about the caretakers' actions before the woman died.

Ashe lived with the caretakers and the boy for at least eight months, police said.

After Jennifer and Debra Poulos moved out, they went back to the house every day, said Gulfport police spokesman Thomas Woodman, and saw that Ashe's medical condition was worsening.

"There were times when they could have (sought) medical assistance," he said.

But they never did, police said.

Woodman also said they never called the landlord to fix the broken air conditioning or get rid of the cockroaches.

Dirty laundry still blanketed the front porch of the house at 5320 29th Ave. S on Tuesday. The home was divided into four units, and Ashe and her caretakers lived in the eastern-most unit.

A broken lamp, an unplugged fan and a faded couch were strewn across the property. Broken chairs, clothes and trash covered the floor of a room visible through a window.

The home was uninhabitable and "extremely cluttered," police said. It was so bad inside that one could not walk from room to room.

Neighbors said they didn't interact with the family much but saw the caretakers and the boy from time to time. One neighbor often saw Ashe sitting in her wheelchair on the front porch.

Gina Forgetta, 63, who lived next door, said she thought something was wrong ever since the caretakers moved in last year. "Trash all over the place," she said. "You get the feeling that they didn't care."

Cathy Scraplen, 67, who lived two doors down, said she met the caretakers but never talked to them. "It's horrible. It's absolutely horrible," she said. "I'm a nurse — maybe I could have done something if I had known."

Forgetta said she regularly saw the caretakers "throwing trash and missing the Dumpster." She never saw the boy play outside.

Jennifer Poulos was "at times emotional" in interviews with police, Woodson said, but Debra Poulos showed no remorse or concern over Ashe's death.

Debra Poulos was being held in the county jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, Jennifer Poulos in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Contact Langston Taylor at [email protected] Follow @langstonitaylor.

   
Comments
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian before fleeing the scene on Sunday night.Police say the driver struck an unidentified woman near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

A man who was swimming off Lido Beach got caught in a rip current and drowned Sunday night.According to the Sarasota Police Department, the unidentified man was swimming with a woman near Big Pass, a boater channel, around 10 p.m. before becoming cau...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

RUSKIN — A 1-year-old child was killed Sunday night and four family members were hospitalized when their vehicle overturned into a ditch.Deputies, responding to the scene after receiving several 911 calls around 6:30 p.m., located the overturned vehi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa man drowns in waters near Gandy Bridge

Tampa man drowns in waters near Gandy Bridge

A Tampa man drowned Sunday night in the waters on the Pinellas side of the Gandy Bridge.According to Pinellas County deputies, 28-year-old Cruz Sales-Lopez was swimming with girlfriend Erika Fuentes Ambrosio, 33, near the northwest side of the Gandy ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Rang...
Updated: 5 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Range...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY — A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Published: 06/17/18
1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

TRENTON, N.J — Shooting broke out at an all-night art festival in Trenton, New Jersey, early Sunday, sending people stampeding from the scene and leaving one suspect dead and 20 people injured, a local prosecutor said. Many of the 20 injured were tre...
Published: 06/17/18
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Published: 06/16/18
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Published: 06/16/18