RALEIGH, N.C. — A 94-year-old woman died after freezing to death two years ago in the adult care home where she lived. The home's owner was charged criminally. However, the Holly Springs facility is still open with the same owner and operator.
Patricia Tiller, owner of the Autumn Green Adult Care Home, faces involuntary manslaughter charges for the incident. She has paid any fines and continues to work with residents, even though state and county investigators concluded she should not be allowed to do so.
On Thursday, a state committee will review the civil penalties in the case, but Bill Lamb, advocate for the Institute of Aging, thinks the case has lingered for too long.
"I don't believe they should be operating right now," he said. "I think there should be due process. I think that's clear, but I think two years is sufficient review."
The cases can drag on for years because there are different levels of regulations. The county oversees adult care facilities, but the state also investigates and assesses fines. In addition, the state attorney general's office can get involved in cases.
"We tend to be very sensitive to not wanting to step on the rights of operators. There's a part of me that understands and agrees with me. There's another part of me that's very concerned about the residents and their care," Lamb said.
No matter what ruling the committee makes, Autumn Green will still be able to operate Friday. Any committee action requires further review and Tiller can appeal.
State and county investigators declined to talk to WRAL. WRAL was also not able to reach Tiller, and calls to her attorney were not returned. A trial date has not been set in Tiller's criminal case.