North Bend couple accused of fraud, abusing blind, disabled teen

by: David Ham Updated:

Loading
North Bend, Wash. —

King County prosecutors say Jeffrey and April Henderson stole about $19,000 of Medicaid money meant for a 19-year-old they were caring for. Detectives said that when they found the teen, who is blind and has cerebral palsy, she was covered in vomit, weighed only 67 pounds, and was moaning like an animal.

 Detectives said the Hendersons spent lavishly on flat-screen TVs, computers, an iPad, iPods and an extensive reptile collection.

 "The only time I saw them was the Fourth of July. They spent an extraordinary amount of money on fireworks," said Dustin Anderson, who lives near the North Bend home where the Hendersons lived.

 After investigators took the teen out of the house in October 2012, the Hendersons moved to Florida.

 "The house was gutted and trashed and cat piss everywhere, feces -- I mean it was horrible. He said you couldn't go in there without a respirator," said Anderson.

 We tracked down Jeffrey Henderson in St. Augustine, but he kicked us off the property. King County prosecutors said they had to wait almost a year and a half to file charges because they had to put together details of the financial fraud. We asked prosecutors why the couple has not been arrested.

 "They have been served notice to return for that date, regardless whether they are in Florida or not.  There is a warrant for their arrest. When we file cases  where the defendants are at large, the warrant is there to ensure that if they are arrested before arraignment, they are brought to our jurisdiction as well as dealing with any new criminal allegations they may face. If they fail to appear for arraignment, then we will call on authorities in Florida to act on the warrant and may ask our Fugitive Task Force to intervene," said Ian Goodhew, spokesperson for the King County prosecutor's office.

 Since the teen was taken out of the care of the Hendersons, detectives said, she has gained at least 30 pounds, and has had 19 root canals to fix teeth that were rotten. She is also attending school.

 Department of Social and Health Services officials would not confirm or deny if the teen or the Hendersons were receiving Medicaid money, but said this about fraud.

 “DSHS has an aggressive approach to investigating reports of fraud in its program. We solicit tips from the public, and vulnerable clients are reviewed regularly to make sure that appropriate care is being administered properly. When we find that is not the case, we inform the AG’s office immediately and pass along our findings. If you know or suspect fraud in social programs, including Medicaid, you can notify DSHS by phone  or email," said Kathleen Spears, a spokesperson for DSHS.

 The Attorney General's Office said it investigated this case alongside federal officials but could not say how they found out about the alleged abuse.

 

Want to talk about the news of the day? Watch free streaming video on the KIRO 7 mobile app and iPad app, and join us here on Facebook.