A Meeteetse woman is facing charges for exploiting a vulnerable adult and intentionally abusing that person.
That person, Kenneth E. Bray, alleges that Tristen Brewer, 23, neglected her duties as his caretaker and drew unauthorized money from Bray’s bank account, while at the same time going weeks without buying food for the 69-year-old man. She is facing up to 20 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
During a Friday arraignment Brewer pled not guilty to these charges.
When authorities visited Bray in July, they found a man dehydrated, malnourished, lacking proper hygiene and having lost a significant amount of weight since the Wyoming Department of Family Services and Park County Sheriff’s Office had last seen him. Park County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rob Cooke also said his clothes were very dirty, body showing bed sores and fingernails so long they had punctured his own skin, untrimmed for at least six months.
During the welfare check Brewer had appeared out of the back portion of the house and asked why authorities were there. After Cooke requested an ambulance, “her only concern was for the cost of it, not Kenneth Bray’s health,” Johnson wrote. Authorities had also paid Bray a visit in mid-June but Brewer was allegedly upset with their presence in the house, causing Bray to refuse any other help.
Bray requested medical help which Johnson said was a, “definite chance (sic) from previous encounters due to his staunch refusal of assistance.”
Although Brewer had been hired to take care of Bray for one year previous she was not his official caretaker.
When a DFS case worker Theresa Clark and Sheriff’s deputies visited him at his Meeteetse home July 1, Deputy Phil Johnson said he weighed only about 90 pounds and that Clark was shocked at his appearance.
The house was in a “filthy” state as well with Bray’s chair and bed urine stained and trash piled up.
Bray was taken to Cody Regional Health where staff concluded he hadn’t eaten anything in six days and may have been a victim of elder abuse. After 10 days in the hospital Bray was found in a “greatly improved” state according to Johnson.
While there, he told authorities. “She put him on the back burner when she got busy with other things.” Bray also told authorities Brewer didn’t take him to the doctor enough and that it would be 1-2 weeks between her visits, despite his requests to see her daily. He reportedly has diabetes and suffered a stroke recently.
According to the affidavit, a Wea Market employee said Brewer routinely made purchases for cigarettes and gas in June, even though Bray didn’t drive.
No checks or direct physical evidence has yet been provided to link these purchases to the unauthorized ones drawing from Bray’s account. In a letter written to presiding Judge Bill Simpson, Brewer said she should be released so that she could inspect Wea Market surveillance video and dispute these charges.
But as part of her duties she was given Bray’s checkbook and debit card to buy food and other items for him.
“There never seemed to be food in the house,” Bray told Johnson according to the affidavit, and multiple bills had gone unpaid.
Authorities determined Bray received enough money from his pension and social security to cover his bills, yet they found numerous occurrences of his payments being denied due to insufficient funds and eight bounced checks in June that he did not approve.
Brewer was arrested on Oct. 13 and has been in custody ever since. Her bond was set at $10,000 cash/surety Monday morning and she is now out of custody after making bond.