State of Alaska v. Meghan Simon, Part 1
This is the first of a three part post on WC’s long adventure with the Alaska criminal justice system in State of Alaska v. Meghan Simon. It’s a story with an ugly beginning, very serious crimes, protracted delay and no closure. It’s also a serious criticism of the system.
How WC Hired Meghan Simon
Like a lot of folks WC’s age, WC for more than a decade dealt with a parent’s declining health. WC’s mother, widowed in 1989, moved to MLH Manor shortly after it opened. The initial promise of appropriate levels of support as residents aged never panned out. It became what it is today: tax-subsidized housing for the elderly.
By 2002, it was apparent that WC’s mother was going to need more support than WC and Mrs. WC could provide. WC’s mother was adamant that she would not move to the Pioneer’s Home. Happily, WC stumbled upon a very capable young woman to serve as a home health aide, and from 2003 through the end of 2008, WC could leave town for more than a day without undue worry. But in December 2008, that capable young woman announced she was pregnant, and would be staying home. She gave WC two months’ notice. And WC struggled to find a replacement.
At the time, there was not a centralized clearinghouse for finding home health aides. Grants had expired, persons had left, and there was a vacuum. WC was provided with a faded, two-page, single line list of possible home health aides. The kind that has been photocopied so many times that the page is all pastel grays. And there was no one on that list – WC attempted to contact everyone of them – who could provide the level of service WC’s mother needed. At least none who didn’t have criminal records, or domestic violence complaints against them.
WC has lived in Fairbanks most of his life, and has extensive connections. But none of those connections was able to provide a name. WC assumed the role beginning in January, but it was simply not possible to do it indefinitely. And WC had an extended trip planned in February. Travel insurance would not cover cancellation.
And then WC was contacted by a public health nurse, who said she knew of an unlicensed woman who was providing support to another of the public health nurse’s patients. Her name was Meghan Simon, and she would be willing to take on another patient. It wasn’t a recommendation. WC wants to be clear: this is not a criticism of the public health nurse. She provided helpful facts.
WC interviewed Meghan Simon. Simon appeared to a be a 40-year old woman trying to appear 20-years old. But that’s hardly a reason to reject a person. WC obtained the information to do a background search: review of records in Alaska Courtview, a credit check, a bankruptcy court check. WC wouldn’t have made her a large loan, but there was nothing otherwise. WC set up a meeting between himself, WC’s mother and Meghan Simon. It went okay; not great, but then WC’s mother, even before the onset of Alzheimer’s Syndrome, was a difficult person.
So Meghan Simon was employed to work 20 hours per week, at a rate that was half again what her predecessor had been paid. Bills were to be submitted to WC; WC’s mother regularly forgot to pay bills. And WC wanted to keep an eye on what was going on. After two weeks, it seemed to be working okay. WC’s mother had complaints, but they centered on being made to eat healthier food.
So WC and Mrs. WC headed off on their trip, out of the country and out of communications for three weeks. There was no cell phone service in the Amazon basin.
What Meghan Simon Did
On his return, WC found numerous messages on his answering machine: from the public health nurse, suggesting WC should terminate Meghan Simon immediately; from MLH Manor’s manager, complaining about Meghan Simon; from WC’s mother, complaining forcefully about Meghan Simon; and from Meghan Simon.
What had apparently happened was that the son of Meghan Simon’s other patient had beaten the living snot out of Simon. There were cross-domestic violence complaints. Simon, without anyone’s permission, had brought strange men to MLH Manor to care for WC’s mother while Simon was injured.
WC set out to find a new home health aide. But, after a long and difficult meeting with Simon, allowed her to stay on in the meantime.
Access Alaska had been awarded a grant to take up the abandoned task of coordinating home health aides. And they gave WC an appointment for March 25, 2009. There was a lot of pent-up demand, WC was told, and they couldn’t get WC in sooner.
WC visited his mother on the evening of March 22, 2009. There was nothing remarkable about the visit. WC’s mother complained about the usual things, and like many Alzheimer’s victims, voiced the same complaints multiple times. There was fresh food in the fridge; the apartment was clean. We talked about getting a new home health aide, or whether she wanted to move into the Pioneer’s Home. She was emphatic; she wanted to stay where she was.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009, at 10:11AM, WC had a call at work from the MLH Building Manager. They were worried. There were two newspapers in front of the apartment door. That wasn’t usual. Could WC come over?
By the time WC got there, ten minutes later, so had Meghan Simon, the City Police and the City Ambulance. Simon had gone in to the apartment, found WC’s mother dead, and gone into hysterics.
The police and the ambulance personnel were professional and polite. But one of the police officers took WC aside and said that Simon’s reaction was far too strong to be normal; he suspected she was on drugs. After WC’s mother’s body had been removed to a funeral home, WC set out to secure the apartment. WC asked Simon for her keys, and got them. WC picked up his mother’s purse and noticed immediately that the checkbook was missing. WC’s mother had been on the far side of absent-minded; WC asked Simon if she knew where the checkbook was. The look of guilt that flashed across Simon’s face would have been obvious to third grader, let alone a cynical lawyer. WC knew at that point that money had been stolen. The only question was how much.
Continued in Part 2