When Las Vegas police entered the two-story home in the east valley, they found nearly a dozen people, most with mental or physical disabilities, living in what investigators described as “deplorable conditions.”
Some slept in their own filth, while others had no mattress and were forced onto the floor. Residents told police they were hungry and felt unsafe.
An arrest report released to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday details the conditions that Metropolitan Police Department officers found at the home while issuing a search warrant Sept. 12. Only one person was arrested after the raid — 54-year-old Bruce Wycoff, who allegedly worked at the home as a “house manager” — but the report details an illicit group home for elderly and disabled people operated by a trio who allegedly have run unlicensed group homes in the valley for years.
The investigation into the unlicensed group home on the 3100 block of Parkdale Avenue began in May, and at the time of the search police had identified six residents who were “victims of abuse and neglect,” the report said.
Police believe the home, near Desert Inn Road and Boulder Highway, was run by a married couple and their associate, identified in the redacted report as “Devon,” “Mary” and “Calvin,” respectively. They have been running unlicensed group homes in the valley “for the past several years,” and Metro received numerous reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation at the facilities, according to the report.
On May 23, “Mary” was interviewed by police and said the operators receive about $30,000 a month from their homes across the valley. The detective who authored the report wrote that he confirmed the business “exists only on paper.”
That woman did not show up at the home during the Sept. 12 search, despite two phone calls from police and residents telling her about the police activity, the report said.
Crowded rooms, ‘foul odor’
Wycoff and several unidentified suspects had “assumed positions of caregiving” with the residents, according to the report. It accuses the suspects of “insisting disabled people sleep on dirty mattresses on the floor and leaving vulnerable residents to lie in their own excrement due to failing to change their adult diapers.”
Wycoff told police he acts as a “manager and ‘glorified bouncer’” in exchange for a deal on rent, the report said. He told detectives he cleans, cooks, “kicks out” residents who use drugs or alcohol and helps the residents with daily activities like showering and changing diapers, the report said.
Residents told detectives that rent costs $400 to $600 a month in cash, and that they were promised individual rooms, food, assistance and supervision. Residents also said a woman who operates the home takes debit cards and food stamp cards from “the more incapable residents” to withdraw cash “under the guise of collecting rent.”
Conditions described during the Sept. 12 search include a restroom without a working toilet, no air conditioning on the first floor, overcrowded rooms, a “strong foul odor” and what looked like urine spilled next to a bed where someone “seemed to have urinated in a plastic bottle.”
Some residents used wheelchairs, but no wheelchair ramps were found in the home, the report said. Eleven adults and two children under the age of 10 were living there Sept. 12, but residents who spoke to police during the investigation said up to 20 people at a time have lived in the home.
‘No one cares’
One former resident, a 66-year-old man identified as “Joel,” stayed in the home without regular access to food or insulin until his brother-in-law requested a welfare check in July. The resident told police he “never saw a dime” of his monthly Social Security benefits of about $1,200, the report said.
At least two residents said they were referred to the home by HELP of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit meant to help poor and homeless communities. The detective who wrote the report said the home’s operators received referrals from mental health agencies, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
One woman, a 66-year-old who suffers from multiple illnesses and was identified as “Dorothy,” gave detectives text messages she sent to “Mary” on the August day she moved into the house, the report said.
She texted that her legs were swollen and painful, the report said. She worried that she might “get a stroke in (her) head.”
The woman she texted said, “I’m working on it” but ignored later messages, the report said. So Dorothy kept texting.
“(Wycoff) was very nasty. He said sleep on the floor. You put too many people. Please come and help. No one cares.”
Finally, another response.
“He said u could sleep on the sofa. We are only tryin to help people who have no money to help themselves.”
HELP of Southern Nevada
In a phone interview Friday evening, Abby Quinn, the chief community relations director for HELP of Southern Nevada, acknowledged that the nonprofit referred three people to the home on Parkdale Avenue after a contact who had worked with the organization recommended the home.
Quinn said HELP trusted that man to recommend a group home that met their standards. The clients in the home fell under a program used to connect people to low-cost housing and were not overseen by a case manager.
Once a client notified the organization about the conditions at the home, someone from the organization inspected it, moved the three clients out and reported the home to police. Quinn said HELP will change its policies about approving housing, and it no longer works with the man who recommended the home.
“This is something that had happened, and we were not aware of it,” Quinn said about conditions in the home. “Once we were, we took immediate action to rectify it.”