Medford caregiver accused of stealing from cancer-stricken woman

A Medford woman faces felony theft and mistreatment charges for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from a woman suffering from terminal cancer.

Police said Crystal Dawn Neff, 42, was a paid caregiver for an elderly woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. During the months she provided in-home care for nearly eight hours a day, Neff reportedly bilked the woman out of close to $5,000.

"This is an unfortunate case of elder abuse," Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said. "Sadly, we see these cases quite a bit in our area."

Neff provided in-home care for the woman since August 2009, Hansen said. At some point, police allege, Neff began writing and cashing checks under the woman's name and keeping the proceeds.

Finally, a family member noticed the woman's finances were out of order and looked into the matter. The family found evidence that Neff was stealing from the woman and phoned police.

Financial detectives collected evidence, but could only tie Neff to around $4,400 taken between October 2010 and January, Hansen said.

"We strongly suspect that more was stolen, but we have not yet been able to prove it," he said.

Medford police arrested Neff on charges of first-degree criminal mistreatment, aggravated identity theft and three counts of first-degree theft.

Neff was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $72,000 bail March 22, but posted bail after her initial appearance in Jackson County Circuit Court the next day.

Neff, who lives in the 2200 block of Griffin Creek Road in Medford, has been sued by several creditors over the past 10 years, according to court records. She also has been evicted from a number of homes she has rented, records show.

Hansen said the area's large elderly population often finds itself preyed upon by caregivers trusted to assist them with their daily lives.

"Our older generation can be vulnerable to this type of crime," Hansen said. "Often, the elderly will develop a close relationship with the caregiver and will trust them with their finances."

Hansen said family members should keep an eye on their loved one's bank statements and savings accounts. If they see anything suspicious, call the police.

— Chris Conrad

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