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Owner Of Wake County Adult Care Center Charged With Manslaughter

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HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. — Police say 94-year-old Julia Judd, one of six residents at Autumn Green Adult Care Center, had a core body temperature of 80 degrees - way below normal - when she was taken to Western WakeMed after falling ill on Thanksgiving Day.

Judd died the next morning.

After a two-week investigation, police say the woman who cared for Judd for six years is responsible for Judd's death.

Patricia Lowe Tiller, the owner of Autumn Green, was arrested Monday and charged with involuntary manslaughter. She was released from Wake County jail after posting a $20,000 bond.

Holly Springs police say it was Tiller's neglect that caused Judd to get sick.

Police said the the temperature in the home, based on the thermostat, was 54 degrees in the living area for the patients. They also said the heating unit was turned offwhen they visited the home.

Tiller reportedly knew there were problems with the heat. But she didn't get the system repaired until after Judd's death.

Investigators say Tiller also lives at the center. But she was heating her part of home with a wood stove.

Holly Springs Police Chief Cecil Parker said that Tiller had "a moral and legal responsibility to make sure the patients are cared for.

"These times when the weather is this bad," Parker said, "you need to make sure they are kept in good health and kept warm.

"She was 94 years old. It's a very, very sad thing to happen. Miss Tiller thought a lot of Miss Judd."

Tiller's attorney, Bill Young of Raleigh, said his client is "absolutely, unequivocally not guilty."

Young added that Tiller "expects to be exonerated of having anything to do with the passing of that fine woman who she took care of for so well, for so long."

Police say Tiller has been cooperative.

The Adult Care Division of Wake County Human Services is also investigating the incident. Ironically, that organization paid a surprise visit to the home the day before Thanksgiving and found no problems.

Human Services said that, so far, residents are telling their investigators that residents in the home are warm, well-cared for and don't want to move.

The center will remain open pending the outcome of the investigation.