Local News

Police arrest Henderson landlord

Posted August 14, 2009 8:58 a.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2010 3:02 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.