PLATTE CITY, Mo. -- A Smithville woman is accused of stealing prescription painkillers from a 95-year-old hospice patient. Platte County prosecutors have charged Kerrina Elliot, 43, with elderly abuse, stealing and drug possession.
Elliot was arrested following an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. On Tuesday night she remained in the Platte County Detention Center under a $25,000 cash bond.
Elliot is a home health care worker with a drug addiction who was caught red-handed on a hidden camera stealing hydrocodone tablets, according to investigators.
“We do take it very seriously anytime someone preys on someone who`s unable to defend themselves,” said Myles Perry, a Platte County assistant prosecuting attorney working on the case.
Perry said Elliot committed the crime inside a Weatherby Lake home that doubles as a rehabilitation center for the elderly called Therapeutic Health Services.
Clinic owner Patti Nelson had hired Elliot to clean, cook and do laundry inside the home but not to administer medications.
“The health providers that were working with an elderly patient noticed that she was becoming ill when they provided her [with] her medications,” Perry said.
Prosecutors say the victim needs constant care with all aspects of her life due to vascular dementia, debilitating spinal conditions and several other conditions which require constant oversight and medications.
When the woman became sick after taking her usual meds, Nelson noticed that her hydrocodone tablets had been replaced with 500 mg acetaminophen tablets.
“They began to contact authorities,” Perry said, “who initiated an investigation, placed a camera in the home.”
Perry said the camera caught Elliot stealing the elderly woman's prescription meds from a lock box.
“She`s obviously in a vulnerable position, both by age and infirmity,” Perry said of the victim. “And we trust these people to come into our homes and to take care of our loved ones, and in this case, that trust was breached.”
According to court documents, Elliot admitted to investigators that she is addicted to opioids.
She has an extensive criminal record and was released from prison in July of 2014, where she served time for trying to fraudulently obtain controlled substances.
It's unclear if Nelson conducted a criminal background check on Elliot before hiring her. FOX 4 went by her house Tuesday afternoon, but Nelson was not there and never returned our calls.