Police say a Centerville couple swindled about $500,000 from an elderly neighbor with dementia.
A Houston County Grand Jury indicted Cheri and William Cox on more than three dozen counts including elderly abuse, financial fraud, card fraud and theft, and forgery.
According to the indictment, the couple "unlawfully exploited" their 80-year-old neighbor Herbert Marquiss, and this happened over the course of almost seven months.
Many of these charges listed in the counts are to home improvement stores.
Sergeant Phillip Pritchett worked the case and said that Marquiss is a simple and frugal man, who lived very modestly and scrimped and saved every penny he had.
"He lives in a very modest home--very modest, extremely modest budget, a budget lower than the typical american is on today, every dime that he could possibly saved, he saved, and he invested and this was basically his life savings," said Pritchett. "Mr. Marquiss refused to spend money on a lot of the amenities that we do every day like heat and air conditioning because of the expense of it."
Pritchett said when they entered the Coxes home they found home improvements and $120,000 dollars in cash from the accounts of Herbert Marquiss.
"There were a lot of purchases on home improvement stores in the area and which looking at his residence you've got a floor in a couple of places we found were sinking in, the ceiling and places was falling in and just you know if he spent this money at home improvement stores we weren't able to find where on his property things were improved," said Pritchett.
Pritchett also said they found that the Coxes spent $30,000 on a 24-foot boat with Marquiss's money.
Adult protective services put Marquiss in an assisted living home, Pritchett says. He is aware about what happened.
"Mr. Marquiss is not a very emotional person," said Pritchett. "However the one statement that he is able to make to me is that 'nobody is supposed to have my money.' He is fully aware of what belongs to him."
13WMAZ contacted the Cox couple, they declined to comment on this story. We also contacted their lawyer Jim Rockefeller who did not return our phone call.
Bond was set for $100,000 each for the Coxes, and they were able to post it.
Erikka Williams, the Chief Assistant to the Houston County District Attorney's Office, said that an arraignment hearing is the next step and that could happen within a month.