Accused abuser Raquel Penny prays with supporters and senior citizens on Marietta square
Raquel Penny hit with felony charges of elderly abuse and neglect
Senior citizen Victoria Richards watched Raquel Penny's news conference
MARIETTA, Ga. -- Two days after Marietta Police said she had disappeared with several patients, the owner of a Marietta elderly care home came forward Thursday to defend herself.
Registered nurse Raquel Penny said she's been portrayed unfairly by the news media since police raided her Lauren Springs Lane home calling it filthy and unlicensed.
At a news conference on the Marietta square, Penny claimed she had been in touch with Marietta Police the entire time and surrendered voluntarily.
Now out on bond and flanked by a handful of supporters, 42-year-old Penny denied she had abused anyone.
"I genuinely love people; I would never hurt or harm anyone," she said.
Penny said she's cared for elderly patients for more than 10 years and wants to keep doing it.
She claimed photos released by police of a filthy refrigerator and bathroom in the home were of appliances in the garage and a basement room that were not being used.
She would not discuss where she'd been with her patients for 36 hours or whether she had a license to run a personal care home.
After the news conference, Penny and supporters went over to several senior citizens gathered on the square for a noon concert and prayed with them.
When they learned who she was, several of those seniors said they'd heard about the case and were doubtful of her innocence claims.
Victoria Richards said she believes many people who run such homes prey on the elderly.
"They think that we're just some kind of a money making thing there, so that they can eat and live, nicely dressed and leave us on the side to rot," she said.
Later Thursday, Marietta Police announced they had found all six of Penny's patients and interviewed them.
They also said their investigation led to another unlicensed care home in Atlanta where they found two of the Marietta victims who were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital on Wednesday.
Based on these new developments, they upgraded the charges against Penny with felony warrants for elder abuse and neglect.
They've also charged Terry Catron, who they describe as an accomplice, with felony abuse and neglect as well as obstruction of an investigation.