NEW PORT RICHEY — On the last day Eloise Mudway was alive, she still worried about being mistreated and alone.
"You're not going to throw me out, are you?" the 94-year-old widow asked her caretaker, Jeff Kores, from her hospice bed.
"No, honey," Kores said. "We love you. You're not going anywhere."
"Oh, good," she said.
Mudway died Wednesday (Nov. 30, 2011), broke and still mired in a legal battle with the couple convicted of stealing her home and draining her bank accounts.
Joseph and Cynthia Clancy were arrested in 2005 on charges of tricking Mudway into signing over the deed to her Hilltop Drive home in New Port Richey. Mudway also told investigators the Clancys, then her live-in caregivers, stole her dead husband's diamond ring, fed her only bologna and pickle loaf sandwiches and made her do laundry for them.
"I stayed in my room most of the time," Mudway testified at the Clancys' trial in 2009. "I was not allowed to have company. It was like I was in prison."
Joseph Clancy, now 58, and Cynthia Clancy, 49, were convicted of grand theft of a person 65 or older and were sentenced to 10 years in prison. A judge ordered the house be returned to Mudway, but the property is still tied up in a civil lawsuit winding its way through the court system. That prevented Mudway from living in the house or selling it to recoup some of her lost funds. She spent her remaining years with Kores and his family on a $1,200 monthly Social Security check. Until her death, she kept asking when they could move back into her old house.
"The sad thing is that nothing is resolved," said Kores, who said his own home is in foreclosure because of thousands of dollars spent in legal bills he accumulated fighting for Mudway.
Even from prison, the Clancys have fought to keep the home they say Mudway willingly signed over to them.
"We offer sympathy and condolences to Mrs. Mudway's friends and relatives on her passing," the Clancys' attorney, Brett Geer, wrote in a statement to the Times on Thursday. "But let there be no mistake about our position in this matter that this case is miscarriage of justice. Two innocent people are in prison. Cynthia and Joseph Clancy have maintained their innocence from day one in this whole affair, and they continue to do so."
Cynthia Clancy, who used to work in Mudway's doctor's office, befriended the elderly woman and, in 2001, she and her husband Joseph moved in. Mudway allowed them to live there for free on the promise they took care of her in her old age. Then the relationship soured.
Mudway said they used her. The couple said she was manipulated by Kores into making false accusations against them, while they actually had the woman's best interest at heart.
Cynthia Clancy said in a court document that she took on the quit-claim deed and the mortgage for the home to save it from foreclosure after Mudway stopped making payments.
"I was never told or led to believe that by simply preparing this quit claim deed, to help my friend save the home we all shared could end up costing me my mental health, my good name, every asset I had, and my freedom," Cynthia Clancy wrote.
Kores said he now has to get a probate attorney to represent Mudway's estate in the civil suit over her assets. He feels overwhelmed and sad and frustrated. He's trying to gather enough money to get Mudway cremated. She wanted her ashes spread over her mother and stepfather's graves in St. Petersburg. He plans to abide by her wishes.
"We were hoping it was over with when they went to prison," Kores said. "No way. ... They won.
"She never saw a dime."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.