Caregiver charged with
Birthdays certainly aren’t uncommon occurrences at Buena Vista Nursing Home in Colville, but last Wednesday’s celebration was far from routine.
Surrounded by friends, neighbors, social workers, nursing home staff and representatives from the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department, Kettle Falls resident Frances Swan turned 106-years-old.
With cake and gifts on hand, Swan, who the media has referred to as “the oldest woman in Washington State,” made jokes about her age.
“I’ve never been over 105 in my whole life,” she laughed.
Last Wednesday was a happy transition in an otherwise sad, bittersweet story.
Stevens County Sheriff's deputies rescued Swan recently when Detective James Caruso found her living in refuse, squalor and begging for food.
Police were at 108 E. 10th Ave. in Kettle Falls investigating a case of animal cruelty when they found Swan in a bedroom. She said she hadn't been fed in days.
They arrested 78-year-old John Herbert Friedlund, who was purportedly Swan's caretaker for six years. Swan’s husband passed away 20 years ago and the couple had no children and no relatives living in the area.
"There was rotting garbage, rotting vegetables, rotting food, dogs all over and the smell; the stench of the house is almost indescribable,” Detective Caruso said. “It's almost indescribable how bad it was trying to go through there."
According to Stevens County Superior Court records, deputies already had a warrant to arrest Friedlund for starving horses. Friedlund supposedly gave Caruso permission to enter the home and retrieve his medicine before taking him to jail. That was when Caruso found Swan.
“It’s just amazing to think she’s gone from that to this,” Caruso said Wednesday at Swan’s birthday party. “She’s a strong lady.”
Friedlund was released from jail last week on a $25,000 bond. Court conditions for his release include the stipulation that he is not allowed to leave the Tri-County area or return to Swan’s house in Kettle Falls. He cannot contact Swan in any way or damage property belonging to her.
Friedlund appeared in Stevens County Superior Court on June 28 to face charges of Felony Criminal Mistreatment and five counts of Animal Cruelty.
As for Swan, according to Buena Vista Director Lorri Carter, “She’s in a good place now and would like to eventually return home.”