Mary Oliver was stabbed to death at Baptist Towers on June 17 by fellow tenant Geary Otis, who had forced his way into her apartment, police said. Otis is in jail facing murder and aggravated assault charges in Oliver’s death and another attack on another resident, Emmanuel Surry Jr.
“A lot of people there don’t feel safe,” Oliver’s daughter Jan Jacobs said. She and her sister, Ellen Hall, said they’ve filed a lawsuit against National Church Residencies, the Ohio-based owner of the apartment complex.
A spokeswoman for the company told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she couldn’t comment on the lawsuit.
“We mourn the death of this poor woman and we are cooperating with the authorities in this investigation,” Karen Twinem told the newspaper. “But we have not seen the lawsuit, so it would be inappropriate to discuss it at this time.”
Oliver had lived in the 300-unit building in southwest Atlanta for six years, and her daughters said the staff didn’t provide enough security.
“There is prostitution there and drugs,” Hall said. “Mom would call and complain all the time about loud noise and people being there who weren’t supposed to be.”
Twinem challenged that claim.
“We are not aware of any issues with prostitution or drug abuse at Baptist Towers,” Twinem told the Journal-Constitution.
“Our average resident is a 79-year-old woman. We have staff or security on-site 24/7.”
National Church Residences has owned and managed the complex since 2007, and officials told the newspaper background checks are done on all residents who apply to live there.
Police have said Otis entered Oliver’s apartment and stabbed her to death with a knife from her kitchen while she was in bed. Otis had earlier attacked Surry. Chris Chestnut, a lawyer representing Oliver’s daughters, said the two attacks were about an hour apart.
Twinem said there are cameras in the building’s common areas, but Chestnut said there are fewer than when Oliver moved in.
“The cameras were inoperable, and those that weren’t inoperable weren’t monitored,” Chestnut said. “It’s a bait and switch. This is not the same place these ladies moved their mother into. No one would move into a war zone.”
Jacobs said she and her sister filed a lawsuit to protect the building’s other residents.
“This new management has no regard for seniors or their safety,” Jacobs said. “They’re just trying to meet their (occupancy) quotas."