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Suspect in repeated elderly abuse cases caught

April 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man suspected of attacking three elderly women in a Carson nursing home in was arrested in Gardena where surveillance cameras showed him outside a different nursing home.The suspect is a 20-year-old man who had a penchant for breaking into elderly care facilities and attempting to fondle female residents. According to police, he's suspected of doing so in at least three cities. Fortunately one of those elderly care centers had an extensive video surveillance system, and that tripped him up.

Christopher Richardson was arrested February 20 as he tried to break into the parlor of a psychic reader on Redondo Beach Boulevard in Gardena. He didn't get in and police quickly caught him.

"One of the officers working patrol got a call that this suspect was also accused of attempted burglary at a business on Redondo Beach Boulevard [the psychic reader's parlor]," said Gardena Police Lieutenant Steve Prendergast. "And when the officer got there and saw the suspect, he recognized him from the video footage from the Rosecrans Care Center. Then he was arrested."

Police were able to link Richardson to an attempted break-in three nights earlier at the center on Rosecrans Boulevard. The director there says the facility's video surveillance tracked him as he walked around the building just after visiting hours ended.

"The cameras caught him, clear as night," said Raymond Pellicer, administrator of Rosecrans Care Center. "The lights are pretty bright, so it caught his face pretty clear. He comes around the corner to the rear of the building. The doors are locked at night for the safety of the residents. So he just goes through the courtyard with the wrought-iron gate. That's when one of the employees sees him attempting to go through a sliding door, which was locked. He's scared away.

"He goes out, down to the opposite wall, it's on camera," continued Pellicer. "We also have cameras pointing in that direction as well. There's an alleyway, a grass area. He walks down the alleyway, and then a female resident, her room is halfway down the building, he's seen to take off the screen, tries to break in, that's when the resident called for help, and he was scared away by my staff."

After they arrested Richardson, Gardena Police compared notes with police in Carson and Long Beach. They quickly linked him to several break-ins at elderly care centers, including one at Heritage Rehabilitation Center in Carson, in which three elderly patients were abused.

"Suspect entered through windows or open doors, and he would enter rooms only occupied by elderly females and he would attempt or be successful in fondling them," said Lt. Prendergast.

Richardson remained in jail Thursday, charged with burglary, elderly abuse and lewd acts on a dependent person.