Police say man abandoned mother with dementia in hotel during Hurricane Irma

Police say man abandoned mother with dementia in hotel during Hurricane Irma

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Channel 2 Action News
Stephen Haupert
  • Story Highlights
  • A man is accused of abandoning his mother at a motel.
  • The 71-year-old woman has dementia.
  • Police said he paid for one night and left the area.

Police believe a man abandoned his 71-year-old mother in an East Point motel — and went on vacation.

Kathleen Laree, who suffers from dementia, was found wandering in the lobby of the Motel 6 on Virginia Avenue, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Motel employees called 911 and told police Laree’s son, 52-year-old Stephen Haupert, checked her in, paid for one night Sept. 25 and left.

Haupert is wanted on felony charges, the news station reported. Immediately after checking his mother in, saying they were evacuating from Hurricane Irma, Haupert allegedly asked how to get to the airport.

“He was in a really big rush, asking where airport was in relationship to hotel," East Point Det. Ebony Johnson told Channel 2.

Johnson said she contacted Haupert shortly after his mother was found wandering, but he told police he’d done nothing wrong.

He “basically said she’s a big girl and can take care of herself,” Johnson told Channel 2.

But Johnson said Haupert can't just bring someone to a foreign place, drop her off and leave her with nothing. Laree had only a train case with old pictures, one phone number, $20 and a few pair of shorts. 

Saint Croix marina police told Channel 2 that Haupert lives in the U.S. Virgin Islands and is away on vacation.

His mother remains in the custody of adult protective services, police said.

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