Local News

Police arrest Henderson landlord

Posted August 14, 2009
Updated April 16, 2010

— Henderson police charged a boarding house manager after code inspectors said they found six men and two women living amid unsanitary conditions, including human feces spread throughout the house.

Squalid conditions found in group home Squalid conditions found in group home

Three residents of 212 Charles St., between the ages of 45 and 88, told officers they paid Mary Ester Thompson monthly fees for food, shelter and care. Police said one man said they got only a small amount of nourishment each day.

Investigators determined that Thompson, 85, of 1644 Bobbitt Road in Kittrell, leased the Charles Street property and ran it as a boarding house. She was arrested Thursday.

Police released pictures of the house showing a clogged toilet with brown water and feces spread in a bathtub. There was no food in the house, and it did not have electricity or running water, police said.

Thompson denied any wrongdoing.

Next-door neighbor Barry Henderson said he could smell that something was wrong. "You could smell it when you opened the door. On the hot days, you come outside, you can smell it in the air," he said. "That's when I start worrying about the diseases and stuff."

Henderson said that he let the residents store food in his refrigerator and gave them permission to use his outdoor spigot for water at any time. His water bill last month was $400, he said.

"That's when I cut it off," he said. "I told them there's only so much I can do."

The Department of Social Services removed some of the residents from the house and obtained medical care and proper housing for them.

Thompson faces three counts of exploitation of disabled or elderly person, two counts of possession of a stolen electrical meter and one count of felony larceny. The larceny charge stems from allegations that Thompson stole electricity from Progress Energy.

Thompson used to be manager of Vance Manor, on Old Country Road in Henderson, which the state closed in 2005, police said.

She was released from the Vance County Jail Friday after a district court judge changed her $50,000 bond from secured to unsecured. Her next court appearance was set for Aug. 31.


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  • beachluvr Aug 14, 2009

    I used to rent from Mr. Hester about 10 years ago (in a much nicer townhome, though) and he was about as do-less as they come. It was all about making a dime at any cost..reminds me of Mr. Crabs on Spongebob..lol. Shame on them for allowing poor, disabled folks to live in such HORRID conditions!

  • St Ives Aug 14, 2009

    there is nothing more obscene in this world than watching someone abuse diabled people, children and animals. All those who do should pay a very big price.

  • kwik Aug 14, 2009

    go to www.homeinhenderson.com and see the pictures for yourselves...pure disgust...words can't even describe...

  • Southern Girl Aug 14, 2009

    WRAL - you should name the owner of this property on your news report. The owner is: "Thomas S. Hester, Jr." - a former Vance County Commissioner. HE allows for this kind of thing to go on so he can fill his pockets with $$$$$$.

    He should be investigated, and he should be named.Look at the conditions of this house. This is terrible, and should not be allowed.

  • SkepticalGirl Aug 14, 2009

    This is where the mentally ill, disabled, and elderly wind up when Bev cuts funds. The gazillion dollar art museum expansion could have waited awhile so funding could have been preserved for those who have no choices.

  • oldrebel Aug 14, 2009

    Sad, bad situation.

  • Southern Girl Aug 14, 2009

    Henderson is rampant with slumlords. They are a dime a dozen, and they are making millionsoff of the poor. They have no code to abide by. They can rent anything they want - no water, no heat, nothing.

    Would be a good story for you to take on, Channel 5.

  • Southern Girl Aug 14, 2009

    The owner of this property, Mr. Thomas S. Hester, should be required by law to provide water, heat and cooling for this house. If he had not voted against the CO for renters, the condition would not be like it is today.

    How did he not know what shape this house was in? Do landlords not check on the property that they rent out? Seems to me that they certainly should.

    Mr. Hester is as if not more guilty that the woman that was arrensted. He should shoulder most of the responsibility since he OWNS this property.

  • tran Aug 14, 2009

    denies all wrongdoing and ...

    "A next-door neighbor said that he let the residents store food in his refrigerator and gave them permission to use his outdoor spigot for water at any time."

    Oh, that makes it all better.

  • amyrn Aug 14, 2009

    FYI. All statements made by me are my opinions only and do not reflect the thoughts and/or opinions of anyone else in state government.