94-year-old woman arrested after refusing to leave independent living home


A 93-year-old woman has had the worst experience of her life when she was arrested for apparently not paying rent for her apartment in an independent living center in Eustis, Florida.

Juanita Fitzgerald says the National Church Residences' Franklin House retirement community had made a decision to "put her out" after blaming her for mould found in her apartment.

Fitzgerald refused to get her belongings and leave and said, "Unless you carry me out of here, I'm not going anywhere", according to the affidavit.

The police attempted to help her out of the apartment but she slid from her wheelchair to the floor in protest and resisted the attempts of officers who then tried to pick her up.

A spokesperson for Lake County Sheriff's Office said an officer had tried to reach out to Fitzgerald's family and other housing communities where she might be able to relocate, but she refused.

She was released Thursday by the judge on her own recognizance and was turned over to a caregiver.

Fitzgerald did not have to pay bond but must appear for a December 27 court appearance, officials said. Officials at the home say that they contacted her family on several occasions and even spoke with homeless agencies but Fitzgerald refused help. Once outside, Fitzgerald is seen struggling with officers as she sits on the ground, before she's placed in the back of a police vehicle. Fitzgerald was charged with trespassing after the nursing home where she lived called the police, saying that she had not paid her rent.

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Police said staff of the Franklin House facility offered to help her move, but she refused. The report notes that officers did not handcuff her due to her age and the possibility that she could be injured in the process. Fitzgerald said she had bruises on her arms and legs after the arrest. "And one thing's that unique (is) she refuses all help".

She claims she tried to pay rent in October but was refused.

When Fitzgerald refused to leave the property Tuesday night, police officers stepped in.

"This is extremely rare", said Twinem, who said National Church Residences runs 340 properties.

"Ow, God, you're hurting me", Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald is staying with a friend in the meantime.