More media vigilantism? If people are so worried, why not go to the police instead of the media?
By Becky Oliver
FORT WORTH - Most of us probably think of a nursing home as a place for elderly loved ones to get the care and help they need…not a haven for criminals sponging off taxpayers. But that's what FOX 4's Becky Oliver found in a community outside of Fort Worth.
It’s a serene, tidy little neighborhood on the shores of Lake Worth with parks, lakefront homes, and cottages where families have lived for decades. But there’s a cancer in the midst of the tranquility.
“You can’t even sit in your own yard because you are afraid of what is going to happen,” said Mary Cecil.
“My family has lived here since 1935 and it feels like we’re in jail, you know, because of these people,” said Kerry Gallagher.
There are about 50 of “these people” at the Lake Worth Nursing Home…registered sex offenders, convicted felons, and prison parolees, some labeled violent offenders by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).
But these are not your typical nursing home patients confined to a wheelchair or bed.
“Sick, old people are fine in there, you know. Not these young 30 or 40 year old sex offenders down there. That’s ridiculous,” said Mary Cecil, who lives just down the street from the nursing home.
“We’ve got little kids around here and I don’t like them around them,” said Paul Williams, who also lives in the neighborhood.
For weeks FOX 4 watched offenders from the nursing home roaming the neighborhood.
[name withheld] is a sex offender on parole until 2022. He has a long criminal history including rape of a child and convictions for drugs, theft, weapons, and public lewdness.
[name withheld] is labeled a “violent offender” according to TDCJ, on parole until 2017. His convictions include burglary, drugs, and forgery.
[name withheld] is on parole until 2027. He’s a burglar, convicted three times. He rides a bike all over town. We saw him go to a neighborhood yard sale and stop by lots of stores.
[name withheld] told Becky Oliver he’s in the nursing home because of end-stage liver disease.
“You’re out in the community a lot. You’re out riding your bike a lot,” Oliver said to [name withheld]. “I don’t even have a bike,” [name withheld] responded. “Oh you’ve never been on a bike before?” asked Oliver. “You’ve got a lot of information about me so you don’t need to ask me anything,” said [name withheld]. “I’m just wondering why you are always out riding a bike,” said Oliver. “You’ve got me mixed up with someone else,” [name withheld] responded as he walked away.
[name withheld] is on parole until 2019 with convictions for theft, forgery, and drugs. He says he had a heart attack and stroke and left prison early.
“Would you normally be in TDC if you didn’t have these medical problems?” Becky Oliver asked Thomas. “Yes ma’am, probably,” [name withheld] replied.
We saw [name withheld] many times at a nearby city park, having a beer and a smoke.
- So friggin' what? Ex-criminals have to live their lives just like you!
“We see you down in the park drinking a lot. Do you go down there to drink?” Oliver asked [name withheld]. “No ma’am. It’s against the law to drink down there,” said [name withheld]. “I never drink because the police said you can’t….city ordinance, that you cannot drink,” [name withheld] continued. “Oh, the city ordinance. Well, you’re not supposed to be drinking on parole either are you?” asked Oliver. “No,” [name withheld] replied. “So, you havn’t been down in that park drinking?” asked Oliver. “No ma’am,” said [name withheld].
[name withheld] says he’s been at Lake Worth Nursing Home since January. His record includes aggravated robbery, burglary, manufacturing and possession of drugs, and DWI.
We asked offender [name withheld] who is footing the bill for all the nursing home care.
“Why are you living there?” Becky Oliver asked [name withheld]. “I can’t tell you why people are living there,” said [name withheld]. “Let me tell you this…what you can do. You can go to that nursing home and talk with that nursing home because I don’t have any information,” [name withheld] continued. “Do you pay to live there or does the state pay for you to live there?” asked Oliver. “Now wait a minute. Now see, why would that be your business? I don’t even want to talk to you,” [name withheld] told Oliver.
[name withheld] didn’t want to talk and neither did the owner of the nursing home, Jon Shilling.
When FOX 4 went to the nursing home he tried to kick us off of the public street that runs in front of the nursing home.
“I’m telling you what to do. You’re on my property and I am going to press charges on you,” Shilling told Becky Oliver and our photographer.
We wanted to ask about all the residents roaming the neighborhood.
“Why are all these people out riding their bikes, drinking in the park, drinking alcohol, going to the stores? Why are they out and about in the community?” Oliver asked Shilling. But Shilling didn’t respond. He didn’t want to talk and called the cops on us.
- Because they are human beings? And what proof do you have they are breaking any laws?
“I’m not answering your questions. I’m telling you this is my property. If you think I’m wrong you go look it up and prove me wrong,” Shilling told Oliver
But we didn’t need to look it up. When the police showed up an officer confirmed what we already knew.
“I own this property right here,” Shilling told the Lake