Around 10 percent of people over 65 are believed to be victims of “elder abuse,” or the exploitation of seniors. In some cases, elder abuse is state-sanctioned, allowing supposed guardians to siphon away elderly people’s life savings and keep them from their own family members. How is such a widespread problem flying under the radar?
Julie Belshe, an advocate for guardianship reform, experienced this nightmare firsthand when her parents disappeared. She eventually learned that they had been taken as wards of the state by “guardian” April Parks, who was indicted on more than 200 felony charges in March.
The New Yorker reported:
The Norths’ daughter, Julie Belshe, came to visit later that afternoon. …
She knocked on the front door several times and then tried to push the door open, but it was locked. She was surprised to see the kitchen window closed; her parents always left it slightly open. She drove to the Sun City Aliante clubhouse, where her parents sometimes drank coffee. When she couldn’t find them there, she thought that perhaps they had gone on an errand together—the farthest they usually drove was to Costco. But, when she returned to the house, it was still empty.
That weekend, she called her parents several times. She also called two hospitals to see if they had been in an accident. She called their landlord, too, and he agreed to visit the house. He reported that there were no signs of them. She told her husband, “I think someone kidnapped my parents.”
Listen to Belshe’s interview on today’s show (above) for the full story.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
GLENN: We are going to tell you a story that is truly hard to believe. And it could happen to you. It could happen to your parents.
I want to introduce you to Julie Lynn Belshe. She is a woman whose parents, Rudy and Rennie North, were legally kidnapped. This happened in the state of Nevada. And this is not the only case. It is — it all stems from these guardians, strangers can become the garden of your parents. It doesn’t matter if you’re there. They can go to court and become a guardian for your parent. And when that happens, they just disappear.
Julie, welcome to the program.
JULIE: Thank you, Glenn, for having me.
GLENN: I’m reading this story from the New Yorker, and it is hard to believe at first. This sounds like something that would have happened in Nazi Germany.
JULIE: Well, that’s pretty much what I’ve compared it to, because I didn’t know anything about guardianship. And when I started looking on the computer and finding the first video I came across was Dorothy Wilson. Diane Wilson was interviewing her mother in an assisted living facility. And her mom was devastated. She was like, “Get me out of here. I’m not going to eat. I’m not going to read. I want to go home.” And I didn’t know what I stepped into. And the more I started investigating on the computer — social media helped me tremendously — I knew I had to do something for my parents, because they’re confident there was nothing wrong with them. They needed a little bit of help. They lived on a golf course. Had somebody come in and help them. Take care of them.
I assisted them. My mom had suffered for years and years from CLL. And — but we had it all under control. And the minute anybody finds out that you have any assets, money, stocks, bonds — that your worse value, you no longer are a human being. Once the guardian takes you, you are now a ward, and you have less rights than a prisoner.
GLENN: This is truly shocking, and I want to set this up right, so people can understand it. Your folks lived in Las Vegas, so people understand.
GLENN: You would go over and see your mom and dad. They lived on this golf course. You would go and see your mom and dad. Once a day you would stop in, is that correct?
JULIE: I would stop in once a day, and then the last couple of months, before they got taken, we would call each other. And my husband and I have a business. So I was pretty busy. I have three young boys. But I would talk to them every day, if not three or four times a day, make sure they’re okay, see them once a week. At first, I was helping them for six months just run errands, take them to the doctor.
GLENN: Right, but it’s not that your folks were confused. Your father was reading — I’m trying to remember here. He was reading Freud. Plato. Nietzsche.
JULIE: Oh, yeah. He’s a very intelligent man. He’s very articulate.
JULIE: This is collusion, okay? This doesn’t start with just the guardian, okay? The guardian is that now we have finally gotten entitled with her —
GLENN: Wait. Wait. Before you go into this, I have to explain to people, what happened.
GLENN: Your folks, your folks are living on the golf course.
GLENN: They’ve lived a good life. They’ve put their money away. They’ve saved for their requirement. Your mom is getting ill, but your dad is taking care of her. She’s fine. He’s fine. Both mentally there.
You’re in the area. So if there’s any problems — it’s not like these people were just left alone. And one day, somebody comes to the door and claims to be their guardian. Is that right?
JULIE: You pretty much have it right. What happened was, it was on Memorial Day of 2013. And I had plans to go see my parents on that Friday. And in walks hospice care, a worker. The owners actually from hospice care, my parents were drinking coffee and having breakfast.
Pretty much to condense, there was another knock on the door about 20 minutes later. And it was April Parks, the private professional guardian. I like to call them the private for-profit guardian. Because that’s all they’re in it for. And she walked in and presented herself. And my parents had six people in their home. And told them, they had three choices: One, they could go to — go with them willingly and go to an assisted living facility. Two, they could call the fire department and the police. They had a chance to go to jail. Or they could be taken out of the home in a gurney. Or, three, they could go to a psych ward.
GLENN: Your parents chose option number one, because they were confused. And a neighbor came out and said, “What’s going on?” And they said, “We’re just going to look at this like a vacation. Nothing to worry about.”
JULIE: Well, that’s not correct. What really happened was, all of these — April Parks, first of all, presented herself as an officer of the court, which she’s not. And one of her coworkers told my mom and dad, just look at this as a mini vacation, as a respite. You’ll be coming back home.
JULIE: And my mom was crying and crying, saying, this is my home. Get out of my home. Leave us alone.
GLENN: They were told to pack a suitcase.
GLENN: And pretty much, whatever they put in the suitcase is all that was left in the end. They got a few items back. But this guardian, then took them across the state, up — way up north, if I’m not mistaken.
JULIE: Well, she took them by Lake Mead, which from our house is about 45 minutes. It’s right close to the border of Arizona.
GLENN: Okay. Oh, yeah. I’m sorry. I was thinking that this was Sun City, Arizona. This was actually in Nevada, wasn’t it?
GLENN: And so they take them there. This is a retirement community. When you finally get in touch with your parents, how many days have gone by?
JULIE: Four days.
GLENN: And no one —
JULIE: Four days. There was no sign. Nothing on the door, until the fourth day, until after the Memorial Day weekend, until she got temporary guardianship of them. And she was now their temporary guardianship because it was deemed an emergency situation.
If something is such an emergency, she was handed the papers two weeks prior, then why didn’t she go and get them there? And it’s a law that if your parents or your loved one is going to be taken, by law, the court is supposed to notify you so that you can step in and say, “What’s going on?” And you can file the proper paperwork.
STU: The law here is just incredible. We can probably spend an hour just on that. But what about the moment when you just go — because you went to visit, your normal visit, and they were gone.
GLENN: This is Friday.
STU: Were you panicked? What did you go through, as that happened?
JULIE: I was mortified. I mean, the newspaper was in the front. The windows in their kitchen are usually open a little bit. The blinds are open a certain way. The house was just closed down.
I just knew right there and then, something was terribly wrong. I went to Sun City, the country club, the little house there, where they would go and have coffee. And I looked around for them. And then I pulled myself together, and I drove home and told my husband, “My parents have been kidnapped.” That was just my gut reaction. Something is terribly wrong here.
GLENN: And you called police?
JULIE: You know, hindsight is always 20/20. I called hospitals first. And the emotions that run with this, are so high and low. The gamut of emotions, that my thing was, I wanted to get an attorney. I wanted to know what was going on. How people can walk in your home and take you and not notify your relative that lives 15 minutes away from you.
GLENN: So your parents, you see them — and your dad is in the fetal position on the couch. And your mom is crying. And how long does it take you to fight to get your parents out?
JULIE: Well, let me put it this way, it took me approximately two years. And that only came after speaking out publicly to the commissioners, to speaking out publicly and getting two new legislative laws passed here. One is that, if you have a loved one, that you can’t — and you live out of state, you can now become their guardian before that was not legal.
JULIE: And the other one is that, if you are going to be a private guardian, you have to be licensed, insured, and bonded, and you can only have so many wards. This woman that took my parents was spiraling out of control. It’s not enough for them to be greedy about it. But they are sociopaths. They hurt people. They isolate. They trespass the family away from their loved ones on purpose. Because they’re getting bedsores, bruises, broken limbs. They’re getting inserted feeding tubes. It’s cheaper to, you know — they save money that way. They’re accelerating the death, in my opinion, of the elderly because they want their full estate.
GLENN: So when they become a guardian, it’s just somebody — this is a business, really?
JULIE: Oh —
GLENN: In Nevada.
JULIE: This is a business all over the nation. And they’re making billions of dollars. And right now, the statistics say they have 1.5 million people under guardianship. No matter how perfect your family is or your estate documents were prepared, anyone can be involuntarily placed in guardianship. This happens all the time, nationwide.
GLENN: Okay. I’m going to take a break. And then when I come back, I want to explain, who are these people? How do they become a guardian?
GLENN: And how does this happen? When we come back.
STU: If you go to @GlennBeck or @worldofStu, we’re going to tweet this story from the New Yorker. It’s lengthy, but it goes through all of it. It’s one of the most insane stories I’ve ever heard.
GLENN: You will not believe it’s happening. You just won’t believe it.
GLENN: Bill O’Reilly joins us in about 40 — 40 to 45 minutes, to answer the, you know, 32 million-dollar question. You don’t want to miss that.
We have to be able to have something we believe in. We have to know what the truth is. Otherwise, things that happen to our guest now — Julie Belshe, and her parents, will happen to you or your parents. There is a guardian system that is happening all around the country. And her experience was happening in Nevada. She says that it happens all over the country. Who — who are these guardians that can, you know, all of a sudden claim — lay claim to your parents, or to you?
JULIE: These guardians are people that don’t have to have any formal education. They can take a course that I believe is just maybe a week long. And then they become a guardian.
These people are trained by the masterminds behind this. Like I said before, this is collusion. We have somebody here that’s a mastermind, his name is Jared Shaffer. He is the head of it.
So they take them under their wings, and they train them, how to go in and open all the drawers and take everything, and deem these people — these elderly people disabled people, or whoever they want, incompetent.
STU: The concept here — looking at it in a theoretical concept, are they basically saying the elderly people can’t take care of themselves, so we’re going to go in, we’re going to take their stuff. We’re going to use that stuff to pay for their care, because they’re being neglected. Is that essentially what they’re trying to say they’re doing?
JULIE: That’s what they are trying to say they’re doing, but they’re failing. They keep saying it’s in the best interest of the ward. Nothing is in the best interest of the ward. We have a private guardian. We’ve gone from having several private guardians, since I’ve gotten into this four years ago, to now there’s only two private guardians, I believe. And the public guardian. So we’ve essentially gone full circle and given the power back to the government, which they love. So it’s gone full circle.
GLENN: So what happens is, these people come in, and with your parents, they had a house on the golf course. They had a car. They had their money. And in a two-year period, this woman came in, claimed to be their guardian, because she just went to court. And claimed to be the guardian. And then she liquidated all those assets. Within two years, your parents had nothing?
JULIE: Correct. The thing is, it’s so easy for the private guardians — it was so easy. But now I believe, in my opinion, that they’ve revered back to doing it again. The family courts. Okay? They’re all working together. The guardians —
GLENN: Okay. So I want to go there, when we come back. I want to go there and I want to talk about the court. Because the court seemed to be, I think — from the way the story reads at least — knowingly colluding. But that’s quite a charge to make. And I’d like to get your opinion on that and see where the court stood, at least in Nevada.