Couple under investigation surrounding treatment of mentally ill

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - By Melanie Posey

TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Two homeowners in Tuscaloosa County are under investigation after two men who are believed to be in their care were found living in the woods behind their residence.

The house is located in the 2200 block of Heritage Drive in McCalla.

The couple is accused of receiving state funding to care for two men who authorities say have mental illnesses.  An investigator with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's office was first alerted to the situation Friday afternoon when he saw a suspicious man.

As the investigator gave chase, the man ran into woods where a second man was found lying on the ground.  Authorities learned the two men, one 46 years old, the other approximately 60 years old, had been living in the woods for some time.  They were reportedly being cared for by the couple living inside the just a few feet from the woods.

Some neighbors report seeing one of the men digging through the trash and walking the streets.

"It doesn't surprise me, but it kind of scares you," said James Kirkpatrick. He's lived in the area four years.  "We have nine children from ages 21 to 4.  And you're always worried about who your neighbors are.  And it just makes you scared to let them out in the yard to play," Kirkpatrick added.

The couple had once run a group home in Birmingham and reportedly taken care of the men then as well.  The men were taken to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa to be evaluated.

The Tuscaloosa County District Attorney's Office assists the sheriff's office with the investigation along with DHR and mental health officials.

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