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93-year-old woman handcuffed and jailed after refusing to leave her care home

Tom Embury-Dennis
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93-year-old woman handcuffed and jailed after refusing to leave her care home

A 93-year-old woman was handcuffed and jailed after refusing to leave a care home she claimed was no longer accepting her rent.

Juanita Fitzgerald, from Lake County, Florida, was arrested on Tuesday after she said the National Church Residences’ Franklin House housing community had decided to “put her out” after blaming her for mould in her apartment.

Police said she was given notice of her eviction on Monday, but refused to leave the building the next day, reports Florida TV station WKMG.

According to a police report seen by the station, Ms Fitzgerald told officers: “Unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere.”

A Lake County sheriff’s spokesperson said a deputy tried to connect Ms Fitzgerald with members of her family and other housing facilities, but she refused. She also allegedly turned down the offer to stay with a nurse who worked there.

The report states that as officers attempted to escort her out of the building, she intentionally slid down her chair onto the floor, and resisted police when they tried to pick her up.

They eventually managed to get her out of the independent living facility and put her in the back of a patrol car without handcuffs, it said.

Ms Fitzgerald was spared having to spend her 94th birthday behind bars after a judge handed her over to a caregiver on Thursday. Her birthday was on Friday.

But the pensioner still faces charges of trespassing and is due to appear in court on 27 December.

Karen Twinem, a spokesperson for National Church Residences, told WKMG Ms Fitzgerald had said she would not pay rent because she thought she would die soon.

93 year old is out on her own recognizance and won't be spending her birthday in jail afterall - will be spending it with a friend who came to get her. #gettingresults@news6wkmg Here is what she had to say about being released pic.twitter.com/ZkTPWUqKXm

— Adrianna Iwasinski (@AIwasinski) December 14, 2017

Ms Twinem said she also complained about mould in her apartment, but the facility had found none following testing.

Ms Fitzgerald, who was interviewed in jail while dressed in an orange jumpsuit, tearfully refuted the claims. Asked about why she would not pay the rent, the woman, who was handcuffed and appeared to have bruises up her arms, said of a housing facility employee: “She wouldn't take it, that woman blamed me for the mould.”

She added: “I paid my September rent and when she decided she was going to put me out, she wouldn't accept any rent after that.”

The housing facility said officials had tried to contact Ms Fitzgerald’s family several times and had reached out to agencies including the Homeless Coalition and the Family and Children’s Services of Lake County. She allegedly refused them all.

Terri Goldberg, a Franklin House resident, told WKMG: “I feel like everything was done that could possibly be done to help her I feel a lot of this was brought on herself.”

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