MERRILLVILLE | A former Towne Centre employee allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars from an elderly woman she helped care for at the Merrillville retirement community.
Martrina Norwood, of Merrillville, was charged with two counts of exploitation of an endangered adult. Norwood, 39, was at large as of Tuesday.
Court documents state the elderly woman, who is suffering from dementia, moved to the Towne Centre Retirement Community in 2009. The next year, the elderly woman began developing a relationship with Norwood, who was a Towne Centre dietary department staff member at that time.
Norwood started cooking for the woman and would take her to doctor appointments and on shopping trips after the elderly woman moved to Village Green, which is on the same ground as Towne Centre, court documents state.
In October 2010, the elderly woman had investment accounts at two financial establishments, and Norwood was added as a secondary account holder in the following months, according to court documents.
The total balance of the accounts was more than $213,000 in October 2010. The balance decreased to less than $46,000 by October 2011, court documents state.
Among the deductions were several cash withdrawals and purchases of goods and services from numerous businesses, including Hollister, Victoria Secret, Southlake Nautilus, Southwest Airlines and Carnival Cruises.
The elderly woman told police a bank official met with her to discuss her financial statements. While discussing that incident, the elderly woman indicated she "found out that she (Norwood) was stealing my money," court documents state.
The elderly woman also told police "she fell in love with Norwood and her children," but Norwood didn't have permission to use funds from her bank account. The only exception involved occasions in which Norwood would go to the store and bring milk back to the woman, court documents state.
In October 2011, the elderly woman received a letter about a situation in which there were insufficient funds for a check issued for services rendered at a veterinary clinic for a dog named "Mickey Norwood."
The signature on the check didn't appear to match the elderly woman's signature.
A message left at Towne Centre wasn't immediately returned.