Death Adds to Group Home's Troubled History - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Death Adds to Group Home's Troubled History

A week and a half ago, an Cassanova Short disappeared from a group home in East Nashville.

This past weekend, the elderly woman's body was found in Shelby Park.

NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Jennifer Kraus dug up new information about that group home.

Short's family had a bad feeling about what was happening at the home, and in the weeks before her death, they tried to get her to move out.

But Short refused to leave a place that a NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered had problems before.

The place Short called home before she died was a group home at 1301 Eastland Avenue.

Retired Metro police detective Tommy Jacobs said, "I wouldn't want any relative of mine having to live there."

Short's family hired Jacobs after the 67-year-old woman, who suffered from a mental disorder, suddenly disappeared from the home nearly two weeks ago.

Short apparently wandered off and was found dead this past Saturday.

Jacobs told NewsChannel 5, "You can't be renting rooms to these people in these conditions."

The investigator said when he went to the East Nashville house, he was shocked by what he saw all over Short's bed.

"When I got to looking at it pretty close, there were just bugs crawling all over it, either water bugs, beetles, or roaches or something. There were a lot of them," Jacobs said.

But what really concerned him was some of the others at the home.

"Some of the people who live at the house evidentially had records, criminal records of pretty serious nature."

In fact, NewsChannel 5 found Charles Dunlap, a convicted sex offender who is classified as a violent offender on the state registry, lists the Eastland Avenue home as his address.

And while he not only lives here, several sources tell us, he also helps run the place.

Neighbor Sherry Stansberry lived across the street for years and said she's been alarmed by what she's seen done to the residents on numerous occasions.

She said she's seen caregivers "knocking 'em down, grabbing them by the neck and by the hair."

And Stansberry said she has repeatedly called police about other suspicious activity at the house.

In fact, according to police records, officers have been called out to the group home dozens of times in the last three-and-a-half years.

On one occasion, police arrested the home owner's son after they found crack cocaine in his room at the Eastland Avenue facility, arrest reports show.

We tried to talk with the woman who owns and runs the home, Elaine Peebles. She was at the home, but refused to even open the door for us.

Investigator Tommy Jacobs said after all he's learned about the home, "it is very alarming."

And now, with the death of Cassanova Short, some including Jacobs believe someone needs to step in 'before some other person winds up dead or hurt."

NewsChannel 5 discovered that the state is well aware of this home.

State officials repeatedly told Elaine Peebles that she is violating the law by running an unlicensed group home.

But Peebles insisted that it is not a group home, so it doesn't need to be licensed or meet any state standards.

Peebles maintains that the Eastland Avenue home is simply a boarding house where people who can take care of themselves rent rooms.

But, the family of Cassanova Short said she, at least, could in no way take care of herself.

***

NewsChannel 5 Investigates also uncovered new information about another facility, owned by Elaine Peebles, that is state-licensed.

Holly Street Family Care in East Nashville offers housing for the elderly, but it has a long history of violations.
In 1998, state inspectors found a "torn and sagging mattress" in a resident's room -- as well as a leaking ceiling with rain water being caught in bucket.

In 1999, inspectors discovered the facility failed to maintain a 48-hour supply of food. One resident was even found wearing a sweater that had dried feces on it.

In 2000, inspectors cited the home for using a portable space heater, in violation of state rules -- and for smoke detectors that did not work.

In 2001, a citation for failing to keep up with its residents after one was spotted walking down Gallatin Road.

In 2003, an inspector discovered no heat in the home during late November.

And last year, inspectors found the home's owner failed to do background checks on her employees.

Back to NewsChannel 5 Investigates

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