Image: Suspects in elder abuse case
Nicholas Davis, left, Barbara Davis, and Jonathan Stevens have been charged with felony endangering the welfare of a dependent person, authorities say.
By Senior writer/editor
NBC News
updated 7/20/2011 6:28:43 PM ET 2011-07-20T22:28:43

Three suspects ripped off an 85-year-old California woman, held her against her will in an abusive cross-country trip and then abandoned her in a 100-degree, broken-down cabin, Maine authorities say.

"She had been in the hot cabin for a number of days,” Lincoln County Sheriff's Detective Robert McFetridge said Wednesday. “She had food, but it was not edible. She had electricity, but the light bulb had burned out. She couldn't walk and she was dressed in a night shirt. We didn’t know who she was."

The victim, whose identity was not released, was taken to a hospital in Edgecomb, Maine, where she was listed in good condition Wednesday.

Police said the woman's ordeal spanned nearly three years and more than 3,000 miles.

"Every time I talk to her, she slowly comes out of her shell," McFetridge told msnbc.com. "They exploited her, isolated her from the world, they controlled what she saw, what she heard and who she talked to. This is a textbook case of elder abuse and financial exploitation.”

Police arrested twins Barbara and Nicholas Davis, 41, and their godson, Jonathan Stevens, 20, on Monday. Each face a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a dependent person. They were released on $10,000 bail and are due in court Sept. 29.

McFetridge described the victim as a painfully thin, intelligent and gentle. He said she suffered from severe hearing loss, if not profound. "I have to shout in her ear to talk to her," he said. She could barely see.

"She understands what is going on around her and can describe some of the events that led up to her being where she is," he said. "I'm trying hard to find out what happened to her."

Here's what he knows so far:

  • The elderly woman sold her home in Los Angeles for $600,000. She moved into an apartment complex in the area and was befriended by the three suspects in 2008.
  • The three told her they wanted to take her to southern Nevada, to show her some property they wanted to buy in Henderson or Las Vegas. In 2009, she was picked up and carried into a car; that was the last time she saw her home.
  • The three are suspected of taking control of her money and accounts.
  • She has no known family members, but possibly a few estranged cousins.
  • The suspects drove cross-country, ending their journey in Maine, where they lived here and there over the past year. The suspects purchased property in Maine and a new truck.

"We need to find out as much as possible so that we can find out where all her assets have gone," McFetridge said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Robert McFetridge at (207)-882-7332.

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