KAYSVILLE, Utah — After a Utah caregiver pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge pertaining to stolen collectibles valued at nearly $450,000, the victim’s family is now filing a civil suit for the value of the items taken that they never got back.
Lisa Nicole Odekirk was sentenced in July of 2019 after a 2018 police investigation showed that she had stolen items ranging from tools to rare coins from Ben and Rea Whicker. Odekirk was hired as a caregiver for the Whickers through Interim Healthcare of Davis-Weber County.
Ben Whicker, an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War, required extra assistance around his home during his final years as he battled Alzheimer’s. His daughter Ryanne says that they had a rotating group of caregivers at the home until Odekirk came.
“She was so sweet and so kind and gave my mom hugs, and my mom just really fell in love with her," Ryanne said. "She was like the dream come true, we thought.”
Ryanne said that after Odekirk came, her mom and dad started ‘losing’ items around the house.
“Just little things, like hair clippers and a drill," she said. "He was always a tool man, and his tools didn’t get misplaced and he wasn’t using them by that time.”
Ryanne says that her parents and Odekirk would spend hours and hours around the home looking for missing items that the caregiver had already taken.
“She encouraged them to look around their home for things that they were missing and trying to find, and would follow them around and say, ‘Oh, your memory must be bad, you’re not remembering where you left things,'” said Randall Spencer, an attorney representing the Whickers.
Spencer is filing a case against Odekirk and Interim Healthcare Davis-Weber for the valued amount of the property stolen. The case also mentions that Interim had previous reports of Odekirk stealing property from clients.
“South Ogden and Willard have received similar complaints against Lisa Odekirk for similar conduct,” a 2018 court document reads.
The coins that were taken date back to the Great Depression.
“It turns out that over $400,000.00 in property was taken from the victims. Most notably, a box of rare, pre-1900 coins, including gold coins, was stolen during this time period. Each coin had a minimal value of over $1,000. Lisa never had permission to take any of the victims' property, including any of the coins,” a probable cause document obtained by FOX 13 from 2018 reads. “As Kaysville police investigated the report, they discovered that Lisa had been busy at pawn shops and coin shops.”
The statement, signed by David County Attorney Troy Rawlings, acknowledges that Odekirk claimed on numerous occasions that the Whickers gave her the coins. The victims denied those claims by saying: “The coins were meant to be for family upon their deaths.”
“What really strikes me in this case is the need for loved ones to pay extra close attention when they are seeking to hire a caregiver for their elderly parents that may not be as acute intellectually as they once were,” said Spencer. “This is really a tragic case, it’s one that I would describe as bullying.”
“Just do your research, pay the 35 bucks, get a background check, do a criminal check, no matter how much you think that they are just the best thing that’s happened to your parents,” said Ryanne, cautioning everyone who needs to look for caregivers or any sort of assistance for their family.
Ryanne also advises anyone who has someone working in their home, especially caregivers, to install a camera so family members can check in remotely at any time.
Interim Healthcare of Davis-Weber County shared a statement with FOX 13:
"This was just such an unfortunate event. We express our deepest sympathies to the Whicker Family. The actions of one individual against the Whicker family was totally unacceptable and we do not condone such behavior in any way. However, we also want the community to know that Interim HealthCare takes the safety and security of clients very serious. We complete industry-standard measures in conducting background checks on our employees, as we did in this case. We wish the Whickers all the best in resolving this unacceptable situation under law."