SHENANGO TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Don Cameron is an 81-year-old U.S. Army veteran with a bad heart, a failing memory and a myriad of health problems. He now lives alone in an apartment with his two chihuahuas Jack and Bela.
But until recently, Cameron lived in a house he owned with his wife who is now in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. He and his step-daughter, Nadine Carson, say the house has been taken over by his former home health aide who moved in with her family and pets nearly a year ago and have moved Don out.
“They stripped everything from this man, everything. He worked for this his whole life, it’s gone,” Carson told KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan. “His home, his cars, his property. They’ve destroyed it; and, no, they won’t leave.”
About a year ago, Cameron and Carson had a falling out and stopped speaking to one another. But Carson had the VA send Cameron health aides, one of whom – named Melissa Miller – was to attend to his needs during the day.
Soon after, things took a turn. After getting to know him, Cameron says Miller told him her family needed a temporary place to stay. When Cameron agreed, Miller moved in along with her husband, Charles, and a half dozen children and their pets. Carson says they immediately began draining his bank account.
“I have the bank statements,” Carson said. “They were taking $300, $400 out of the ATM. Six transactions in one day. I counted.”
Last April, Cameron signed a power of attorney which identifies Miller as his daughter, giving her complete control over this finances. Though it’s not clear, given Cameron’s mental state, he knew the implications of what he was signing.
But records from Cameron’s credit union account show first of the month cash withdrawal in the thousands, as well hundreds of dollars in purchases from Sam’s Club and local restaurants. There’s even $500 in purchases at the Cleveland Air Show and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Even though Cameron had $5,000 a month coming in pensions and Social Security, the household fell into arrears. His two cars were repossessed and utilities went unpaid.
Sheehan: “Here’s the garbage pickup, that’s $300. Gas, close to $2,000.”
Carson: “The electric’s almost $2,000, I called them yesterday,.”
Sheehan: “And none of these bills has been paid?”
Carson: “Nothing’s been paid.”
After Cameron was released from the hospital from a heart attack, he says he wanted to return to his home, but the Millers told him the house was no longer safe for him and they could no longer care for him there.
Carson says they dropped him off at a nearby apartment with no bed and little food. That’s when the super of the apartment complex contacted Carson, who says she was shocked to learn of what happened to her step-father in her absence.
“They ripped him off,” Carson said. “They took everything. He doesn’t even have his bed. When I got here, I talked with Becky, the manager. He had no food hardly, the dogs hadn’t eaten in days. He was hungry.”
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan went over to Cameron’s house in Shenango Township and found that the Miller family still lives there, with no signs of leaving.
The teenage girl who answered the door didn’t want to speak with KDKA, and moments later, police arrived with a report that we were trespassing. Carson arrived also, telling the police chief what she had told KDKA.
Later, KDKA got a call from Charles Miller, who denied taking advantage of Cameron or draining his accounts. He said that he and his wife had been caring for Cameron while his own family had abandoned him. He said that after his wife was laid off as a health aide, Cameron asked them to stay.
But back at his apartment, Cameron himself has nothing but bitterness for the actions of the Miller family.
“What could I say but send them to hell,” Cameron said.
The family continues to live in Cameron’s home, but investigations and court proceedings are underway. Carson has initiated eviction proceedings, and both the Shenango Township and Hermitage Police Departments are investigating.
VA Butler Healthcare also tells KDKA they’ve started their own investigation, saying, “We are very concerned about this report, and we will not tolerate any vet being abused emotionally, financially or physically.”