La Jolla Crime News: Elder abuse suspect sneaked into facility where victim is recovering

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Robert Stella amidst deplorable living conditions before he was removed from his home and separated from his estranged wife.

Editor’s Note:

Although the alleged perpetrator has been named in other news reports,

La Jolla Light

is refraining from using her name unless charges are filed against her.

By Pat Sherman

The estranged wife of 91-year-old La Jolla resident Robert Stella, who is accused of abusing and denying him food and water, was captured on camera sneaking into the residential care facility where Stella has been on the mend since March.

The woman, who has not been charged with a crime, was captured on the facility’s surveillance camera April 5, walking onto the care facility premises in a wig and dark glasses, holding a pen, legal documents and vase of wilted roses to obscure her face, the family told

La Jolla Light

  1. The facility released footage of the woman’s visit to NBC 7 news last month.

Stella’s daughter, Michelle Redfield, said her father was “badly shaken” and wasn’t sleeping at night after the 58-year-old woman approached him in the facility’s cafeteria. The family has since filed a restraining order against her.

Redfield said her father told her his alleged abuser tried to get him to sign a will and another document appointing her as conservator of his legal affairs.

“She threatened him that if he didn’t sign things over she would stick him in a hospital where they would do terrible things to him,” Redfield said her father recounted. “She also told him that she would be back — and that also set everybody on high alert.”

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Screen shot of robert Stella’s alleged abuser sneaking into the care facility where he is recovering.

Redfield said her father’s estranged wife was evicted from his home in the 6600 block of Avenida de las Pescas in April, via a court order.

“Now it’s down to gathering her things,” Redfield said, of the woman, who filled the interior and exterior of the residence with garbage and garden gnomes, and also kept numerous stray cats and dogs (several of which were found dead when police and animal control officers descended on the home in March).

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Robert Stella's daughter, Michelle Redfield.

“She took all her good stuff and left the trash with us,” Redfield said, adding that the home has been held in a family trust since 1975, long before Redfield’s mother (Stella’s first wife) died.

Redfield said there is still some legal red tape allowing her father’s estranged wife to come and collect the rest of her belongings, although she said the family is “eager” to reclaim the house and clean up the property.

Redfield said a judge gave her father’s estranged wife an agreed upon date to pick up her belongings, although “she never showed up and now is insisting that she can’t afford to pick up her things. ... That’s what’s been stalling (the cleanup).

“The laws are just unbelievable. ... She made it seem like she’s still got tons of things at the house.”

Redfield said her father, who was taken from his home dehydrated and malnourished with severe bedsores, has regained weight and strength, although he is still in a wheelchair and fighting some infections.

• Tour bus hits pedestrian

A tour bus struck a pedestrian, who suffered a severe leg injury, in La Jolla Saturday, June 7, San Diego police said.

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