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Milwaukee couple befriends elderly woman, takes her home and life savings

A Milwaukee couple seemed like friendly neighbors to many, but now they're facing charges. Officials said the two men embezzled their elderly neighbor, taking control of her $2M in savings. 

Neighbors tell me they're shocked that their neighbors Craig and Orlin Root-Thalman had bad intentions. 

"They took her for walks around the block. I believed they were doing good," a neighbor said. "I could see how someone could take advantage of her just because she didn't remember a lot." 

According to the criminal complaint, the 93-year-old woman has about $2M in over a dozen banks. The Root-Thalman's took control over her fiances without her consent. Then, they wrote out checks to themselves, claiming it was for care giving. The victim signed over her house without the couple paying her anything. Police said the two men changed the locks to the victim's home and told her family their help was no longer needed. Surprising to many, including Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. 

"Who waits until someone is in a vunerable time in their life, puts themselves in a position of a caregiver and exploits that for their own gain?" Abele said. 

A social worker believed something may be wrong and informed the Milwaukee County Department on Aging. Doctors found the victim's Alzheimer's dementia was so severe that she wouldn't have known what she was doing. 

"The aging population is growing and so is this type of crime," Abele said. 

That's why the Milwaukee Department on Aging focuses on education in hopes of preventing more elderly people from becoming victims and others from taking advantage. 

"You pull this stuff off, there will be accountability," Abele said. "We will catch you." 

The two men are expected in court for an initial appearance next month. 

To read the full criminal complaint, see below.






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