Woman pleads guilty to stealing from patient in P.E.I. nursing home

BROKEN TRUST: Bobbi Jo Rebecca Chettle pleads guilty to stealing ring, necklace, pendant from vulnerable woman

Published on February 17, 2017

Norma Malone, left, with her mother, Jean Yeo, during YeoÕs 91st birthday in September 2016. It was the very day YeoÕs family discovered that one of her rings was missing.

©TC MEDIA/ Submitted photo

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – It was Sept. 8, 2016, her mother’s 91st birthday, when Norma Malone noticed the ring was missing.

She had given the piece of jewellery to her mother, Jean Yeo, 48 years ago, on the first Mother’s Day after she’d been old enough to join the workforce. It had a heart-shaped gem. Its disappearance did not, at first, elicit great concern for Jean’s three children, Malone, Ron Yeo and Sylvia Francis.

But that changed after a search of their mother’s room in the Andrews retirement home in Summerside, and subsequently of the rest of the facility, turned up nothing.

The family knew their mother had been wearing the ring the last time anyone had seen it and the imprint was still clearly visible on her finger.

Jean has a condition which has left her reliant on others for all aspects of her care, hence her living at the retirement home. The condition has also caused her hands to stiffen to the point where they cannot be opened with ease.

Getting the ring off her finger would have been difficult, and the staff at Andrews denied removing it.

In fact, they had stopped painting Jean’s fingernails some time ago because they would not risk hurting her by straightening her fingers.

Over the next couple of months, Jean’s family would discover the ring was not the only piece of their mother’s jewellery that was missing.

A former employee of Andrews has since pleaded guilty to stealing the ring, a necklace and a pendant while caring for Jean.

The accused, Bobbi Jo Rebecca Chettle, 29, was recently sentenced to six months of house arrest and 18 months of probation.

She must also write a letter of apology to the victim and her family.

Chettle later told police she’d taken items for cash as she’d fallen behind on her bills.

The thefts have left Jean’s family shaken and deeply saddened at the thought of others going through similar situations.

They wrestled with whether they should speak publicly regarding this incident, said Malone, but ultimately decided to do so in order to raise awareness for others who find themselves having to entrust the care of their loved ones to others.

“There is nothing more frightening than placing the care of your elderly and vulnerable parent in the trust of caregivers in a nursing home facility.

“We fear that such events may be happening more frequently with our loved ones than we know, and hence, we hope our mother’s story will draw an awareness to the issue, and to warn others to keep an eye on their loved one’s belongings,” the family wrote in a victim impact statement, presented to Judge Jeff Lantz in relation to this case.

“We want people to know that elder abuse can happen. It does happen. And while none of us like to think it will happen to our loved ones, it can.”

TC Media contacted Andrews for comment regarding this article, but the company declined.

However, the family stresses that they do not hold Andrews responsible for the thefts.

In fact, they credit the staff at the facility for helping to resolve the situation quickly.

They do not believe there is anything more that Andrews could have done to prevent this situation, as the accused had no prior criminal convictions. It was simply a crime of opportunity.

“Andrews was really super co-operative. They went out of their way to search for the property and keep us abreast. This is not a reflection of their care,” said Ron.

Jean’s family is now hoping to move on from this incident. They are satisfied with the outcome of the criminal case, and their mother’s belongings have been recovered.

They are grateful to everyone who helped them find a resolution so they can now concentrate on their mother’s health and continued care.