Whistler woman found guilty of elder abuse, pivotal for “Shirley’s Law” advocate

This prompted the creation of “Shirley’s Law” which passed in March.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A jury found a Whistler woman guilty of financially exploiting the elderly Wednesday.

Veronica Wiggerfall is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from Shirley Smith back in 2017 while serving as her caretaker.

This prompted the creation of “Shirley’s Law” which passed in March.

Jo Holcombe, the daughter of Smith, says she was in the courtroom when she heard the guilty verdict and cried tears of joy.

She says she pushed so strongly for this law so that other families don’t have to experience this type of elder abuse.

“I immediately just burst into tears. I know they were tears of happiness but I also know it was just tears of relief,” Holcombe said.

After three days of testimony, Wiggerfall was found guilty of 1st-degree financial exploitation of the elderly.

Five years ago Wiggerfall was booked into Metro Jail after being accused of stealing from the woman she cared for, Shirley Smith.

Her children made the shocking discovery.

“She was financially exploited and that was uncovered on October 16th of 2017 when the bank called us,” Holcombe said. “My brother and I immediately took action.”

According to court documents, Wiggerfall stole more than $2,000 from Smith’s bank account through the use of her checkbooks.

Holcombe says she’s been fighting since 2017, not just because of the money lost, but much more.

“What Veronica stole from us that was the most valuable thing, not the money, but time,” Holcombe said. “Propelled me to help create a law was that as a result of the theft my mother was fundamentally changed.”

Holcombe says she advocated to create “Shirley’s Law” in honor of her mother.

This law creates a registry for nursing homes and other elder care agencies to check to see if a person has been convicted of elder abuse.

Governor Kay Ivey signed the law into effect in March.

Holcombe says there’s still more work to do.

“It needs to be national. Hopefully we will save some lives and certainly, some families from having to go through the pain and struggles that mine did,” she said.

Shirley Smith died in 2018.

Holcombe says this is the first elder abuse conviction since “Shirley’s Law” went into effect in Mobile County.

She anticipates the database will go live on January 1.

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