Orlando Sentinel: TAVARES — Juanita Fitzgerald woke up on Friday, her 94th birthday, in an $80-a-night motel wearing the same clothes she had on when she was arrested three days ago.
Fitzgerald spent two nights in the Lake County Jail after being evicted from her home and refusing to leave, and now she sits in her motel room and wonders where she will live.
“I don’t care if it’s just one little room,” Fitzgerald said, as long as she can plant some pickled beets.
She has bruises and scratches on her ankles, which she says she got from the shackles she wore in jail. A spokesman for the jail said he doesn’t know if Fitzgerald was shackled, but it is protocol for inmates to wear restraints.
FItzgerald says she’s overwhelmed by the media attention.
“My daughter said, ‘My God, mother, you’re all over the world!’” Fitzgerald said.
Advocates with the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition met with Fitzgerald on Friday to make plans for where she will stay the next few nights, until they can agree on a more suitable place for her.
“We’re working with her to try to accommodate her as soon as possible,” the organization’s board member B.E. Thompson said.
The Eustis independent living community where she’s lived in since April 2011, according to court documents, argues that the eviction is the result of months of litigation that began with safety concerns. A spokeswoman for Franklin House, Karen Twinem, did not say what those safety concerns were.
But Fitzgerald says her relationship with management at Franklin House had soured long before the arrest.
Fitzgerald said she would occasionally call authorities and complain to management about other residents. She thinks the practice made her neighbors resentful, and she would be blamed every time something went wrong. She claims her unpopularity strained her relationship with the property manager. read more