LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – The police chief of a small town in Lincoln County, Missouri was arrested Monday (Oct. 7) and charged with five felonies after a grand jury said there was enough evidence that she swindled thousands of dollars from a vulnerable resident in her community.
The City of Old Monroe placed its police chief, Kimla Lowery, on unpaid administrative leave after officials learned Monday afternoon Lowery was arrested and booked into the Lincoln County jail earlier in the day, according to city attorney Robert Wohler. Old Monroe statute designates its mayor as the "chief law enforcement officer," Wohler said, and another officer has been named the interim chief in Lowery's absence.
Lowery is out on bond, but she is facing five felony charges including three counts of financial exploitation of an elderly, disabled person and two counts of forgery after investigators said she financially exploited a 96-year-old woman with dementia.
Investigators first became aware of the situation in early 2018 when someone filed a complaint with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
"Once we were able to look into that, we were able to identify some financial patterns that were a little bit alarming," said Zac Jenkins, Investigations Manager with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Jenkins said the victim was diagnosed with dementia in 2013 around the same time Lowery is believed to have entered the picture. Jenkins said Lowery "groomed" the victim by befriending her and gaining her trust then took control of her finances as the victim's mental state deteriorated.
Investigators said Lowery used her position of power and offered to help the victim save money on services like housekeeping, lawn care, and grocery delivery.
"(Lowery) convinced (the victim) to discontinue those services and paying these companies that were coming in and providing these services for her," said Jenkins. "In turn, (Lowery) promised the victim that she would perform the services herself."
Financial records show, in some cases, the victim ended up paying Lowery ten times what she had been paying previously for those same services, Jenkins said. Investigators estimate Lowery took upwards of $60,000 in money and property from the victim over six years.
Investigators presented the case to the Lincoln County prosecutor's office in February 2019. Prosecutor Mike Wood calls the case 'disturbing.'
"That someone who holds public trust and who also holds a badge would take advantage of them and assert themselves to have undue influence on someone who is so vulnerable," said Wood.
Investigators are looking into other people who may have been involved with these alleged crimes, and they are considering filing additional charges against Lowery. On the five initial charges, Lowery faces up to 43 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and $80,000 in fines.
Lowery could not be reached for comment.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline is: 1-800-392-0210