Local News

Residents oppose group home where man was stabbed

Posted February 7, 2010 9:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2010 5:30 p.m. EST

— Some residents of a Holly Springs neighborhood are voicing concerns after a man was stabbed Saturday at a group home. Homeowners in the Windcrest subdivision say the residents staying at Vagap Health, 229 Apple Drupe Way, are poorly supervised.

Gregory Henry McClain was arrested Saturday after police said he repeatedly stabbed fellow group-home resident Stephan Abreu. Abreu, 48, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated and released from WakeMed.

McClain, 22, was charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. His arrest has residents living near the group home worried.

“Are we going to be considered a high-crime area now because of one house and because of one group of individuals?” Windcrest homeowner Richard Hughes said Sunday.

Holly Springs police have handled 17 calls for service involving Vagap Health since the home opened last December, Police Capt. Mike Bornes said. The calls included 911 hang-ups, missing person reports and suspicious activity.

Homeowner Shannon Dye and her family said they are even considering moving from the neighborhood because of problems at the group home.

“Last night, my husband did say he wanted to put the house on the market tomorrow,” Dye said.

Vagap Health owner Obi Achumba said the home, which falls under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Health and Human Services, gives people with mental illness a place to stay. He said the residents are supervised.

“The notion that we do not watch them, that we do not supervise them, is completely false,” Achumba said.

However, Achumba argues that the residents are free to leave the home.

“These gentlemen, even though they're patients, they have their rights. They can refuse their meds. They can refuse their food,” he said.

Donald Grantham, who is not affiliated with Vagap Health, owns several juvenile group homes in Raleigh. He said group homes provide a necessary service.

“It's easy to say, well we don't want these people in our communities, in our neighborhoods, and I can understand that. But, at the same time, they have to be somewhere,” said Grantham, with Omega Independent Living Services.

Nevertheless, some homeowners say they don't feel safe.

“It's not that we don't want people with mental illness across the street. We just don't want people with mental illness and criminal backgrounds,” Dye said.

Police have filed multiple complaints with DHHS contending inadequate supervision and management at the group home.

DHHS spokesman Mark Van Sciver told WRAL News on Saturday that the agency received the first complaint about Vagap Health on Jan. 14.

Investigators spent about a week in the home and determined that although there were some issues with supervision, no issue warranted suspending the facility's license. However, DHHS plans to launch another investigation after learning about Saturday's stabbing, Van Sciver said.

Police also confirmed Sunday that one of the residents who recently moved to Vagap Health is a sex offender and needs to update his registration.

Achumba said he did have two residents move in late last week, but wasn't aware of any residents being sex offenders.

McClain remained Sunday in the Wake County jail under a $1.5 million bond. According to state Department of Correction records, he served 10 months in jail last year for assault.  While at Central Prison, McClain received 24 infractions, which included threats and assaults to staff.

McClain first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.