Senior's caregiver kept her prisoner inside apartment

LAKEWOOD, Ohio - It's sad, tragic and according to police, criminal.

In an Action News investigation, The Investigator, Tom Meyer, said that no one should suffer the way an 88-year-old Lakewood woman has.

Senior citizen abuse is growing with an average of 142 new cases every month in Cuyahoga County. Mary Loeffler's case is becoming an all too familiar story.

Loeffler (pictured, above) led an isolated life in her apartment building, but not by choice. Neighbors said that her caregiver would not allow her out of her apartment to interact with other senior residents.

"She was a prisoner in her own apartment," one neighbor said. "I believe she wasn't allowed out and no one was allowed in."

Police said that you could blame Gloria Petelin, of Lakewood, for the abuse. Police said that Petelin claimed to visit Loeffler several times a week to take care of the 88-year-old woman. Authorities, however, found Loeffler sitting on a urine-soaked couch, her feet rotting and decaying.

"They were in such a condition that when her socks were taken off, skin would peel away from her legs," Lakewood Police Chief Timothy Malley.

Beyond that, Petelin is accused of giving the diabetic woman a daily diet of McDonald's. Police also said that she had no electricity in her bathroom and the ceiling was falling in.

"The conditions were really subhuman. Whether you're 8 or 88, you can't live in conditions like that," Malley said. "The poor woman, she needed help. She needed medication and food because of her diabetes."

Despite the fact that senior abuse is growing, many cases go unreported because victims don't want to file complaints against abusive family members. If you know of any such cases, you are encouraged to call the Cuyahoga County hotline at (216) 420-6700.