Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vulnerable Victim Can Set Stage for the Perfect Crime

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vulnerable Victim Can Set Stage for the Perfect Crime

Article excerpt

HAVE YOU ever thought about the perfect crime?

To some people, the phrase suggests something about a master criminal. To these people, the perfect crime involves some dazzling plan that results in a high-stakes sort of venture.

Detective John Wilsman knows better. He works for the St. Louis County Police Department. He investigates a lot of perfect crimes.

In late January, he was handed a felony stealing case. He looked at the initial police report, and right away, he realized he was dealing with yet another perfect crime.

The victim was Annalee. She is a 67-year-old widow. She lives alone, and she is confined to a wheelchair.

Because she has too little money to pay for household help, she went to the Missouri Division of Aging. She qualified for a program that provides in-house care.

The state sent criminals to Annalee's house.

They stole her jewelry. They stole her liquor. They stole her cash. They stole a box of her personal checks.

Or maybe it wasn't a "they." Maybe it was a "she."

You see, that's what makes a crime perfect. The criminal gets away.

Wilsman handles a lot of these cases, and he says the thing that ties them together is not the criminals, but the victims.

In other words, the chief ingredient of a perfect crime is not a perfect criminal. Instead, it's a perfect victim.

Annalee, who is not a youthful 67, is a perfect victim.

In her case, the state determined that she qualified for in-home care. Included in the list of things she was awarded was cleaning help. That sort of work is contracted out to a private company. The private company hires unskilled workers, pays them a tad over the minimum wage and sends them to an elderly person's home.

Perhaps most of these people are absolutely honest. Perhaps most of them understand that there is a certain nobility in their jobs.

But as happened in Annalee's case, sometimes somebody will take the opportunity to rummage through the house.

Later, sometimes much later, the elderly person will realize that something is missing.

That's when the problems really start.

Say you're talking about jewelry. How often is a shut-in going to wear jewelry?

"Much of the time, the elderly victim has no idea when she last saw the jewelry," said Wilsman. …

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