BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - It's been a week since Arc of Acadiana resident Pamela Owens was found dead in a bayou behind the facility, which assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Now her former caregivers are breaking their silence, saying her death left them with more questions than answers.
Small in stature, Pamela or "Pam" is described by those who knew her as "everyone's baby." She was sweet, loved attention, but had a temper. Pam had cerebral palsy and recently went blind. With the exception of her family, those who knew her best were her caregivers. "She never forgot me, I don't care how long it had been, she knew my voice," said one caregiver.
Two former caregivers agreed to speak to KSLA News 12, but asked to not have their identities revealed. One caregiver met Pam as a 2-year-old when her mother took care of Pam at a facility in Ruston. When she grew into an adult, she also cared for Pam. "She was like my first friend, it was years before I realized she was older than me. She was like a sibling to me. That's how long I've known her," she said. The other former caregiver took care of Pam for 26 years, partly in Ruston and then later when the Arc of Acadiana was run by the state. Both women were devastated to hear the news of her death. "How in the world could that have happened to her?" one asked emotionally.
Pam was found drowned in a bayou behind the Arc of Acadiana - Northwest, one hour after staff members noticed she was missing. "Just the thought of her laying in that water, it hurts to know," said one of the former caregivers.
The Department of Health and Hospitals, the Bossier Police Department, and on-profit Advocacy Center have all launched investigations. But until the probes wrap up, both former caregivers are left wondering what happened in the hours leading up to Pam's death. They question why she was left alone when she needed one-on-one attention and care around the clock. "Pam's not someone you can sit off over there and think she's going to sit there, she needs someone close to her," said one caregiver. "It hurts, somebody you care about gone for no reason," added the other.
KSLA News 12 reached out to the Arc's public relations spokesman for comment and haven't heard back. The police report looking into Pam's death is expected to be released next week.