SAN ANTONIO -- It was a brutal Valentine’s Day murder: A 35-year-old mentally challenged caregiver allegedly stabbing 61-year-old Elma Sertuche 15 times.
“It hurt,” said San Antonio City Councilman David Medina. "This was a constituent who would come by on a weekly basis. And I felt we needed to do something."
The victim was well known in his district, and her untimely death has sparked a new ordinance that requires caretakers of the elderly to obtain a license and pass a background check.
Police Chief William McManus explained, “There’s a list of 32 crimes. And if you’ve committed anyone of those crimes, you are banned from being a caregiver.”
Most caregivers are licensed by the state, but some individuals get hired by clients and through loopholes, avoiding regulations. The ordinance closes those loopholes.
McManus said individuals with criminal records of assault, fraud and theft will be banned from care giving. And come January 2013, those in-home caregivers operating without a license could be fined up to $500.
Police are encouraging family members who are skeptical of their parents’ caretaker to ask for proof of a license or to call police.
“And if he doesn’t have a license, that could terminate his employment right there,” McManus said.
Medina added, “We want to make sure they enjoy their golden years, and actually live in a safe city with a good, quality of life.”
However, even had the new rules been in place, Sartuche’s accused killer may have still been eligible to be her caregiver -- he had no apparent criminal record.
Paul Dominguez remains in jail, still awaiting trial for Sertuche’s murder.