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East Lyme police charge former Starlight Inn resident with abusing elderly mother

East Lyme — A former resident of the Starlight Inn was released on her own recognizance from New London Superior Court on Wednesday morning, several hours after she was arrested by town police on abuse and neglect charges stemming from the death late this spring of her 91-year-old mother.

Carol Allard, 64, now living at 121 Connecticut Ave., Apt. A, New London, turned herself in to the East Lyme Police Department at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to police. She was charged with second-degree abuse of persons and negligent cruelty to persons.

The arrest warrant affidavit said Allard's mother died at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in June, a week after the elderly woman was brought there for chest pains. Medical records outlined in the document stated the victim was covered in urine and feces, including on her face and ears, when she arrived at the hospital in an ambulance. There were gangrenous sores on her malnourished body and maggots on the bed sheet in which she was wrapped.

The affidavit said an autopsy found the victim died of natural causes, which were identified as cardiovascular disease with dementia as a contributive factor.

The judge, defense attorney and prosecutor all acknowledged the uniquely troubling nature of the case, though it was decided not to set a bond based on Allard's age and lack of a criminal record. The officials sat in a courtroom on Broad Street while Allard appeared via video feed from where she was detained at the other courthouse on Huntington Street.

Judge Hunchu Kwak called the details laid out in the arrest warrant affidavit "troubling." Public defender Jennifer Baldwin described the facts as "incredibly disturbing." Assistant State's Attorney Marissa Goldberg asked that Allard not be allowed to be a caretaker for anyone while the case makes its way through the court system.

Goldberg also asked that the case be considered for transfer to the Part A courthouse on Huntington Street, where major crimes are heard. She expressed her own doubts that the case would rise to the standards necessary to get a case moved.

Allard, a tall, sturdy woman with close-cropped white hair and glasses, was quiet as she acknowledged her rights and listened to the back and forth between the court officials.

Afterward, as Allard waited for her husband to pick her up outside the Part A courthouse, she declined the opportunity to add to the information laid out by East Lyme investigators.

"They have my side," she said. "I did what I could for my mother. I just want it over with."

The warrant affidavit said the investigation began with the victim's death on June 11, when East Lyme police were contacted by an investigator with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner seeking authorization for the autopsy based on a request from Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. The hospital also reported the signs of neglect to the state Department of Social Services, the affidavit said.

The Starlight Inn

The Starlight Inn is set for the wrecking ball as part of eminent domain proceedings initiated by the state Department of Transportation so the agency can overhaul the Interstate 95 Exit 74 interchange with Route 161. The motel is well known as the location of a 2018 murder and numerous drug and prostitution busts over the years.

Around the time Allard's mother died, a group of residents told The Day they had been living there for free since the state acquired the property earlier in the year. Court documents show the state took ownership in February based on a $1.26 million offer to owner Star-Inns LLC. One resident estimated there were just under two dozen people residing there at the time and most were working with the state on relocation assistance.

It's unclear when all the residents vacated the motel, though the room doors are boarded up now.

In separate interviews with East Lyme police Detective Jean Babcock and Sgt. Bruce Babcock, Allard and her husband described moving to the Starlight more than a year prior.

Arthur Allard, who is referred to in the warrant affidavit only as her husband but who identified himself at the courthouse as Arthur, said they came up here after Carol Allard's mother was evicted from her home in Florida, and the older woman started deteriorating mentally and physically about six months later. They described her as uncooperative when it came to getting medical attention, eating and changing positions in bed.

Allard said her mother had not eaten in two weeks, according to the warrant affidavit, and she acknowledged she did not seek medical help to address the problem.

Allard told police she had been getting ready to call the doctor about the sores because she knew gangrene would set in. When asked if she saw bugs or maggots on her mother, Allard said she saw flies on her face. She said she washed her mother well but the woman would have fecal matter on her hands and then touch her face; in the same conversation, she then said she may not have been cleaning her mother "good enough."

Allard acknowledged in response to police questioning that the conditions her mother was living in could “probably” have hastened or contributed to her death, the warrant affidavit said. She added that it’s something she’ll have to live with for the rest of her life and that she did not “neglect her (the victim) on purpose, that’s for sure,” the affidavit said.

Allard said she was taking medication for depression and was "probably not in the right frame of mind," the affidavit said. She asked for help from her mother's doctor's office, but then said she couldn't remember which agencies the office suggested that she call. An interview with the doctor revealed Allard was referred to a social worker affiliated with the practice and to the local senior services director, who both told police they reached out to Allard.

Allard said she couldn't remember whom she spoke with, according to the warrant affidavit, but was told she'd have to pay for any assistance for her mother.

Both Carol and Arthur Allard in the warrant referred to the $3,500 that Carol Allard received monthly for taking care of her mother, over whom she had power of attorney. The money was from Social Security and an investment annuity, according to Arthur Allard. It was not clear if that was the family's only income or whether Carol Allard is employed.

The warrant affidavit said Carol Allard's daughter told police during an interview at the station that her 19-year-old son and 7-year-old son at one point were both staying with Allard in the motel room while the daughter had COVID-19. She said that prompted a visit from the Department of Children and Families, who cleared her of abuse or neglect.

The DCF investigator told police she visited the motel in April 2021 regarding a complaint about a child living at the motel. She said the room looked and smelled dirty when she "peeked in," according to the warrant affidavit. The investigator recalled a woman sitting in the room but did not take any pictures and could not provide details. The affidavit did not specify who had filed the complaint.

In the hallway outside the courtroom after Wednesday's proceedings, Arthur Allard emphasized his wife has no criminal record, tried to get help and did not want to put her mother in a nursing home.

Carol Allard's next court date is Feb. 25.

e.regan@theday.com

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