Kelly Adams

Kelly Adams. Cannon Detention Center/Provided

A Johns Island woman is accused of pouring bleach on her 71-year-old mother and stealing her money while she cared for her. 

Kelly Anne Adams, 52, of Evans Way, was arrested Wednesday and charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult. 

Charleston County Sheriff's deputies began an investigation July 19 when they were called to the home where Adams lived with her mother. An Adult Protective Services case manager also responded to the call.

A concerned citizen said he went to check on the victim, who had been left alone without any food in the home. He told deputies the woman's daughter physically abused her and that he found feces on her bed, according to an incident report. 

The woman appeared scared to talk when her daughter was nearby, according to the report. She said around July 4, Adams pushed her to the ground and threw a pot of boiling water on her stomach. Adams allegedly poured "a large amount" of bleach on the victim's head, then rubbed it on her face, a detective wrote in an affidavit. The woman lifted her shirt to reveal scabbed-over wounds.

Staff at Medical University Hospital said injuries to the woman's chest were consistent with chemical burns from bleach. 

The woman also said her daughter kicked her in the back as she was lying on the floor. In one incident, Adams allegedly told her mother she was going to "slit her throat," the affidavit said. The victim said she was unable to take her prescription medication at times because her daughter would lock it up and leave the home for days. 

Adams allegedly stole cash from her mother's pocket book and used her credit cards without permission, charging approximately $1,600. The victim said she was coerced to write checks made out to Adams. She told investigators her daughter used the money to fund an illicit drug habit, the incident report said.

Adams denied taking her mother's credit cards. She told deputies that S.C. Department of Social Services responded to the home earlier that morning and said everything was fine, the report stated.

Karen Wingo, a DSS spokeswoman, said the agency can't comment on specific cases.

Adams' mother was taken into protective custody and remained there as of Thursday afternoon, said Joyce Todd, a victim advocate for the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

What happens next will likely depend on her condition after treatment, Todd said.

"It's really dependent on her condition and whether they think she can find help," she said. "But she can't be by herself."

Elder abuse charges are relatively rare: Last year, the Charleston Police Department dealt with 10 cases of criminal abuse of elderly people. Todd said many similar situations likely go unreported.

A Legislative Audit Council report on DSS published last week found that the department had failed to meet the needs of elders in abuse and neglect cases. The study concluded that DSS had long wait times for people trying to report abuse or neglect by phone and that it failed to adequately document all reports of abuse.

Adams spoke little and kept her eyes down when she appeared in bond court via video stream Thursday. A judge set her bail at $75,000.

Todd and two DSS caseworkers appeared in court. DSS representative Kishia Gibbs requested a no-contact order, which the judge granted.

Gibbs also said Adams's mother has a kidney injury, which doctors believe to be connected to the alleged abuse.

Lany Capers of the DSS' Adult Protective Services met with Adams's mother after responding to the home Wednesday and also spoke in court Thursday.

"I don't know how long this has been going on, but she definitely has been so scared she's timid to any noise," Capers said. "She's just fragile."

Reach Angie Jackson at 843-937-5705. Follow her on Twitter at @angiejackson23. 

Angie Jackson covers crime and breaking news for The Post and Courier. She previously covered the same beat for the Grand Rapids Press and in Michigan. When she’s not reporting, Angie enjoys teaching yoga and exploring the outdoors.

Jack Evans is a reporting intern at the Post and Courier. He attends Indiana University and has written for the Indiana Daily Student, the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Knoxville Mercury, among other publications.