93-Year-Old Woman Arrested for Failing to Pay Rent

Juanita Fitzgerald, who will soon be 94, spent two days in the county jail.

In Eustis, Florida, police were called to arrest a 93-year-old woman after the independent living facility she called home reported that her rent had not been paid for three months.

Juanita Fitzgerald, 93, has a birthday coming up Friday. She was held in the Lake County Jail on a $500 bond and has been there since Tuesday. Fitzgerald was released Thursday on her own recognizance, a Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

Karen Twinem of National Church Residences, which owns the facility where Fitzgerald lives, said the woman told staff she was refusing to pay the rent because she expected to die soon.

Twinem said officials contacted the 93-year-old woman’s family several times to try to get her help and even reached out to several agencies, including the Homeless Coalition, LiveStream Behavior Center, the United Way of Lake County, Family and Children’s Services of Lake County, the Area Agency on Aging and several other apartments and transitional housing programs. Twinem said Fitzgerald refused all the assistance offered.

For her part, Fitzgerald says the facility staff are lying.

Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, with bruises on her arms and handcuffs around her wrists, Fitzgerald denied the allegations that she didn't pay rent because she thought she was going to die soon. Fitzgerald also said she tried to pay rent in October and was refused. She said the Franklin House offered her assistance and tried to find her another home, but she refused and she has refused help from her own family.

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