A judge on Friday appointed the Los Angeles County public guardian to look after the individual and financial interests of a former Whittier man with dementia who was found disoriented and alone in England in 2015 and became the subject of a television documentary.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Barry said a general conservatorship was in the best interests of Earl Roger Curry, 76, who was returned to the U.S. last year by British authorities after a BBC show focused on how he was found so far away from his Southern California home.
Curry, who appeared in court with an assistant who pushed him in a wheelchair, now lives in a Bellflower nursing home. However, his court-appointed attorney, Lorraine Tafoya, said she is hoping he can be placed in another facility where he can spend more time outdoors and be closer to relatives.
Curry's sister, Bonnie Kirk of Riverside, told Barry she would like to eventually become her brother's conservator, but that she did not know if she or her brother had the assets.
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"I'm sorry, I don't know the process, but I would very much like to," Kirk told the judge.
The judge said that in order for her to become her brother's conservator, she would have to file a petition to remove the public guardian and post a bond. Barry said the public guardian's office will marshal her brother's assets to determine what funds he has.
Tafoya's court papers state that her client receives Social Security benefits.
Deputy County Counsel William Sias, who took part in the hearing by speaker phone, said Curry's family members have shown little interest in looking after the elderly man's interests. He saved some of his sharpest criticism for Curry's wife, Mary Jo Curry, who also was in court.
"Mary Jo Curry was one of those who took him out of the country and abandoned him in London," Sias said.
Kirk said after the hearing that she was encouraged by today's developments and hopes she can eventually become his conservator. Asked her opinion of the alleged abandonment of her sibling by other relatives, she said, "All I want to do is what's best for my brother."
The public guardian's court papers state that Mary Curry, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, and her son, Kevin, took him to England and left him in there in late 2015.
Curry was wandering in the small village of Credenhill when he was found by a stranger in November 2015. He was hospitalized in Herford, England, where the staff reached out to agencies worldwide to try and identify him, according to the public guardian's court papers.
He could only provide his named to authorities.
"This is an unusual situation and we are desperately hoping that we can reunite Roger with his family, wherever they may be," West Mercia police said in a news release last March.
After Curry was identified, he was flown back to Los Angeles last July and further investigation showed he was a retired registered nurse who once worked for Kaiser Permanente, according to the public guardian's court papers.