Minnie Graham was a much-loved great-great-grandmother who lived to the grand old age of 98. And like many other seniors, she spent the last years of her life in a care home; hers was Garland, Texas’, Winters Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.
Having had her first child aged just 14, Graham was part of a large extended family. So when she started showing signs of dementia, that family made sure she was taken care of and checked her into the nursing center as a result.
But while Graham’s relatives were initially content with their decision, this was not to last. When they went to visit Graham, in fact, they saw that she had some mysterious bruising on her body. And not only were the marks unexplained, but they looked seriously painful.
However, when members of Graham’s family asked the nursing home staff about the bruising, they were reassured that their loved one had recently fallen from her wheelchair. But could that really cause two black eyes? It seemed unlikely.
What’s more, Graham herself had a different story. Shockingly, she repeatedly told family members that staff at the home had been physically abusing her. And as a result, her relatives naturally became highly suspicious.
So those closest to Graham knew they had to get to the bottom of what was going on at Winters Park. But what could they do? They couldn’t be with Graham 24 hours a day to keep watch, could they? As it turned out, that wasn’t possible – but they could do the next best thing.
And while what they did next was risky, it enabled them to successfully uncover the truth about the despicable behavior taking place at the nursing home. Graham’s story was uncovered and was about to hit the news.
Specifically, by installing a secret camera inside Graham’s room, the family were able to spy on the nursing staff and the way they treated her. However, they were perhaps not prepared for what they saw in the footage, which would have made anyone with a heart sick to their stomach.
Indeed, it was clear that Graham was telling the truth: she was being regularly abused by her so-called carers. In the footage, one member of staff can be seen treating her with incredible disrespect, causing her physical pain. And, heartbreakingly, at one point on the tape the great-great-grandmother even whimpers, “Somebody help me.”
This culprit, moreover, appeared to be someone Graham should have trusted: her carer Nurse Tiller. She’s seen slapping Graham, sticking her tongue out in her face and even swearing at her. In addition, the nurse is caught on film spraying water in Graham’s face and shoving a towel – previously used to clean her body – into the 98-year-old’s mouth.
Obviously, this maltreatment angered the family beyond words. However, the abuse unfortunately did not stop there. In fact, there appeared to be someone else involved in sick, brutal behavior against the defenseless old lady.
Another nurse, this time a man called Luis, was also filmed being overly rough with Graham. He pushes her around and even appears to pinch her, causing her to scream aloud in pain.
Luis’ level of disrespect to Graham is unbelievable. When she tells Luis that he’ll “be sorry” for his behavior, for example, he doesn’t even respond. Instead, he crudely and cruelly holds his middle finger up in front of her face.
When Graham’s family shared the secret camera footage, meanwhile, news outlets were quick to take up the story. And, as anyone might expect, the perverse and shocking film provoked nationwide outrage. What happened next, however, makes the senior’s terrible tale even more devastating.
Tragically, Graham died only a few weeks after the recording of her abuse went public. One of her granddaughters, Shirley Ballard, would go on to tell CBS, “She just gave up on life.” And, understandably, her family were outraged that she had to spend her last few weeks in this way.
Moreover, as Graham’s relatives naturally wanted justice for the horrible crimes that had been committed against the frail 98-year-old, they lodged a complaint with the police. And a grand jury would eventually indict both the carers seen in the videos.
Luis was then arrested and his case filed a total of 13 times; Tiller, on the other hand, somehow managed to dodge being apprehended by law enforcement. And, most shockingly, neither she nor Luis have ever faced charges for what was seen in the footage.
CBS has tried to talk to both Tiller and Luis, but, unsurprisingly, they declined to comment. Yet while it’s since been reported that both carers have been fired from Winters Park, nevertheless they are still legally entitled to find jobs at other care facilities if they desire.
And Graham’s sad story is made even more poignant through the fact that approximately two million U.S. citizens are based in nursing homes and so could also be subject to similar abuse. Graham’s family hope, however, that their detective work will both raise awareness of this type of crime and enable others to spot the warning signs early on.
And awareness may be needed, since, as CBS has reported, “the nursing home population is expected to increase 40 percent over the next decade.” If that’s the case, let’s hope this is the last we hear of such horrific abuse inside U.S. nursing homes.