Imagine having nothing. Not one single piece of paper to prove who you are. That's the situation a private guardian put a local couple into.
That guardian is under police investigation and has been censured by the Center for Guardianship Certification, but the damage has already been done. And it's irreversible.
It's ironic, meeting Bill and Kathy Mesloh at the Boulder City Library. When we interviewed them, the couple couldn't even get a library card because they couldn't prove who they were.
"Our independence has been stolen," says Bill.
Kathy's lifetime career was in law enforcement. Bill traveled the world for business. And the couple has been married 40 years. But once the court put them under guardianship, they say they lost everything. They had no cell phones. No birth certificates. No passports. No marriage license. No driver's licenses. No social security cards.
In Bill's wallet, which is also gone, "I always had a picture of my wife and myself on our wedding day in the backseat of the limo," Bill says as he fights back tears.
All of it taken, they say, by private, for-profit guardian April Parks, who came into the couple's life in the fall of 2013.
"We were vulnerable at the time," says Bill.
Bill is legally blind, but mentally all there. Multiple health problems put him in the hospital and then rehab, leaving Kathy alone at home with early signs of dementia. Health care workers called Parks, who had Kathy declared incompetent by a doctor from the CareMore Care Center -- a place Parks uses frequently for her guardianship cases.
All it takes is a two-page form, a few check marks in some boxes and a signature. Shortly thereafter, Bill was declared incompetent not by a doctor, but a physician's assistant named John Reyes. When Parks took Kathy out of the couple's house and put her in a group home, Bill says she wouldn't tell him where his wife was.
The memory brings Bill to tears. "Not having contact with my wife, I don't know where she is, I pray for her every day, I don't know if she's dead or alive."
After months, they were finally reunited. But Bill had to explain the bad news to Kathy.
"First thing she says to me is, 'Bill, I want to go home.' There is no home. 'I want my pets. I want my dog. I want my Trudy.' How do you deal with that?"
During the guardianship process, the couple lost everything, including their beloved pets. The court never questioned any of it until after Contact 13 got involved. Bill was freed from guardianship and allowed to take over Kathy's care. But the Meslohs believe the entire system failed them, from Parks to every hearing master and judge who sanctioned and allowed her actions.
They say Parks drained their bank accounts. Their house, clothes, jewelry, keepsakes and treasures from a 40-year marriage are mostly gone.
"Our Christmases were unbelievable!" Bill recalls. "We were one of those houses that lit up the block."
They lost cameras, home movies, "even our dentures," says Bill.
And even Kathy's parents' ashes which were on the mantle of the home April Parks sold.
"We were her property once she became our guardian," Bill explains. "No different than a slave would have been. She owned and controlled anything and everything."
Parks sold the Mesloh's home for $130,000. They say they never saw a dime of that money. Court records show everything in the house, from furniture to fixtures, was valued by Parks' appraisers at just under $6,000 and sold at a loss.
Parks and her attorney charged the couple nearly $50,000 in guardianship and legal fees. Charges include $500 a month for filing, mail and paying bills.
Before the house was sold, Parks charged the couple $100 to take out the trash and $100 more to bring the cans back inside the next day.
Bill was even charged $20 when he had to call Parks to ask her to put money in his group home account after she had let it run dry.
Picking up the pieces of a life lost, Bill and Kathy Mesloh have little more than memories.
"This is not what the golden years should be," says Bill.
April Parks did not return calls for comment on this story. After Contact 13 began investigating this case and after Bill spoke to the detective investigating Parks, a box appeared at the couple's group home with all their identification documents inside.