Woman arrested, accused of keeping men in basement against their - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Woman arrested, accused of keeping men in basement against their will

ATHENS, GA (CBS46) -

An Athens woman is accused of running an unlicensed care home where she kept men with mental disabilities in a basement against their will.

Police said Emma Heard took money from their bank accounts and did not provide them constant access to running water.

George Foster said he wishes he never got in Emma Heard's car when she pulled up to him on the street and asked him if he wanted to party.

"I didn't know anything at all until about the middle of the night when I was locked up in a room," said Foster, "I kept on begging her to take me home, take me home."

Heard is now in jail based on a tip from an unidentified man who told police that she was keeping men locked in her basement in unlivable conditions.

"It's kind of rough and nasty looking. You're locked down in a room. You can't take the shoes off your feet," said Foster.

Foster said the same thing Heard was arrested for in May happened to him about two years ago. He said he was stuck inside her house for two straight weeks.

"She kept keeping me there day after day after day. Some of those guys have been there for a long time," said Foster.

Foster thinks Heard finally let him go because he has regular seizures and she was worried about him dying in her care.

"I told her, I don't have my medication with me," said Foster

Foster went to police with his claims, but Heard was never arrested because police couldn't verify that Foster had really been kept there against his will. However, with the most recent situation coming to the attention of authorities, Foster's story is looking a lot more credible.

Ronald McKinney is the only man who was allowed to stay in the house after Heard was arrested. He described some of his fellow housemates who were living there at the invitation of Heard.

"I think one guy was slow because he was a boxer, and he took one too many punches."

McKinney denies that men were held hostage and underfed.  He recalls the conversation when police showed up.

"We were all out there while they were searching the house, and they were trying to ask them, and nobody spoke negatively about her. The only thing I said about her is that she has a temper and she has her ways, but she didn't mistreat anybody," said McKinney.

McKinney admitted there was no water in the basement, and the men used a bucket as a toilet, but McKinney insists that the men were able-minded enough to take care of themselves and decide if they wanted to stay or go.  In his opinion, police may have left her alone had she not been in contact with them so many times before this.

"We've been here maybe three or four years now, and in that time, police may have been here a dozen times for various things," said McKinney.

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