MIFFLINVILLE -- Police have arrested a man they say is to blame for a horrible case of neglect and a bizarre case of theft and fraud.
Officers arrested Michael Kreckie in Hollidaysburg late Monday night.
Marilee Miller died in 2015 at Balanced Care at Bloomsburg. She was 77-years old. The Columbia County coroner said the cause of death was cancer and pneumonia complications.
"Beautiful person, she was my first grade teacher, very lovable,” said Jeff Bachman, a neighbor.
Miller was a retired first grade teacher who spent most of her career in the Central Columbia School District. Her neighbors in Mifflinville say she was beloved, which makes what happened to her all the more tragic.
"I don't know. Now we wonder I guess we should have pursued it further, but we didn't,” said Sharon Bachman, a neighbor.
Police say in 2012, Michael Kreckie moved into Miller's home in Mifflinville as a caretaker. Miller had terminal cancer.
After a while, investigators say Kreckie stopped taking Miller to doctor's appointments. He began to buy a lot of things online using Miller's credit cards.
Police also say Kreckie refused to let anyone see Miller.
"He would not let me in and the same with her son. He lives down in the Doylestown area. He tried to come up and he tried to call her and he wouldn't even let him talk to her--her own son. This guy that was living with her, Mike, wouldn't let her talk to him because he said she was too sick,” said Janet Peifer, a longtime friend of Miller’s.
Police say it took them more than a year to unravel the financial records. Kreckie used Miller's accounts to spend more than $10,000 on purchases that didn't seem to make much sense: like solar panels, a 12-gauge shotgun, karaoke machines, and gas grills.
"Like there were hundreds of boxes of hair clips, things he saw that he bought, boxes of stuff that a man wouldn't use. He just got obsessed,” said Jeff Bachman.
In 2015, concerned neighbors called police.
Officers say they found Miller’s home packed with boxes and other items. The fire department was called to clear the clutter. Police say Kreckie began crying and claiming to be both physically and mentally ill. Miller was taken away for medical care.
"When they were pulling her out she had just enough strength to raise her arm, knowing it was me. I was bawling and she waved goodbye to me as they were wheeling her away. She was emaciated. She was skin and bones. I've never seen a person like that,” said Jeff Bachman.
Kreckie is locked up in the Columbia County jail on $50,000 cash bail.