Detectives said four missing residents from an adult family home in Spanaway and their two caregivers spent last night in Extended Stay hotel next to the Tacoma Mall. Investigators said the group spent most of the last few days in a van driving around King and Pierce counties.
The four residents, two believed to be nonverbal, and their caregivers had been missing since last Friday, but the State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) confirmed they’re OK now.
“They are doing well. I’m sure they’re possibly a little rattled from the last few days and what’s been going on,” said spokesman Chris Wright.
The two caregivers eventually ended up in police custody after emailing DSHS this morning to call for help and reveal their location.
Caregivers Nicole Emanuel and Jessica Newkirk are now in jail for investigation of kidnapping and criminal mistreatment.
“During the time when they were gone, they were living in this van the whole time. They weren’t able to shower and brush their teeth. They weren’t able to contact family members. They didn’t have access to their phones, which are made to leave behind,” said Pierce County Deputy Sgt. Darren Moss Jr.
The caregivers are sisters who ran the Emmanuel Adult Family Home in Spanaway. Neighbors never noticed anything wrong.
“What they do outside is just kind of congregating around their little garden area and smoking on the balcony,” said neighbor Stacy Machaluso.
Why the caregivers left the home with the residents isn’t clear.
“The initial thought was that there was something going on that pause the caregivers to feel like she needed to leave the home, to take care of, to, to prevent them from being harmed. But from what the interviews that went through, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all,” said Moss.
The caregivers drove the group to a DSHS office in Tacoma on Monday and mentioned feeling unsafe but then left. Workers there waited three hours to call law enforcement.
“There was apparently no medical emergency or incredible dire situation that would have warranted, uh, immediate law enforcement at the time. You know, of course, uh, unfortunately, they did end up go missing, um, for these two days,” said Wright.
Wright said an initial check of DSHS records shows no history of trouble at the home. Now there will be an investigation, and the operators could lose their license from the state.
The four residents are now in DSHS custody.
Pierce County detectives are asking the public to be on the lookout for four missing vulnerable adults and two caregivers who had not been seen or heard from by their families in several days, deputies said.
In a news release, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said there were four missing adults who suffer from physical and mental health conditions that require 24/7 care and supervision. Two of the individuals are believed to be non-verbal and may not be able to communicate who they are or if they need help.
Detectives have not been able to contact or locate the two caregivers that were last seen with the four missing vulnerable adults.
Here are the names and descriptions of the missing vulnerable adults:
Paula Daneri, 44, is described as a white woman, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall, 96 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes.
Vaiula Vaiula Jr., 59, is described as a Pacific Islander, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 180 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Anthony Houck is 63 years old, described as a white man 6 feet tall 220 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
Tooraj Aflatooni is 59 years old, male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 219 pounds, with gray hair and brown eyes.
Here’s a description of the caretakers:
Nicole Emanuel, 46 years old, is described as a Black woman, 5 feet 1 inch tall, 215 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Jessica Newkirk, 33 years old, is described as a Black woman, 4 feet 9 inches tall, 120 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
According to investigators, the missing adults were last seen at the DSHS Office in Tacoma before 3 p.m. Monday.
They were seen in a car with the two caretakers from their adult family home.
The vehicle was described as a silver minivan that was possibly a Chrysler.
“At that time, one of their caretakers reportedly expressed concerns for her safety and for the safety of the clients in her adult family home, and was looking for a place to take her clients,” deputies said. “Since leaving the office, the caretaker and her clients have not returned to their adult family home in Spanaway. Their families have not seen or talked to them for at least 5 days. They cannot be reached by cell phone and their current whereabouts are unknown.”
Investigators believe the caretakers may have taken the group to an unknown location in a blue minivan and/or silver minivan. They could be at a care facility, medical facility, hotel, group home or out of the area.
Anyone who has any information on the group’s whereabouts is asked to call 911.
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