She was supposed to be trustworthy; a person the family could count on to care for their aging mother. She was charged with helping with the day-to-day tasks like preparing meals and making trips to the grocery store for an 87-year-old homebound woman.
But instead, law enforcement officials say Andrea Holt helped herself to thousands of dollars from the woman she was supposed to be taking care of, and now the family is warning others.
It’s a cautionary tale about who families can trust with their most vulnerable loved ones.
A hardworking couple
J.C. and Jean Riggs opened Riggs Machine and Welding in 1953 in Stephenville.
“My parents worked all of their lives to take care of their family,” said daughter Judy Burris, who still works at the shop.
In 2015, Mr. Riggs passed away and one year later, Mrs. Riggs had a heart attack. When she became homebound and needed round-the-clock care, the family made the decision to hire help.
They interviewed an attractive, friendly lady by the name of Andrea Holt, who at the time was working at a nursing home in Dublin.
“She seemed to be well-qualified,” Mrs. Riggs said.
Holt, 35, worked in Mrs. Riggs’ home in 48-hour shifts and was paid $160 per day.
There was no indication that anything was amiss until the phone rang on the afternoon of Oct. 6, 2017.
It was a representative of Citizens National Bank asking Mrs. Riggs if she had authorized a $10,000 check written to Holt’s family member.
“That’s when I started to realize what was happening,” Mrs. Riggs said. “And then it all went down hill.”
Investigators get involved
The family immediately called the Stephenville Police Department and met with investigators. They soon uncovered a string of forged checks that Holt allegedly wrote to herself from various bank accounts.
“They could not have been better. The police, investigators and district attorney were so helpful to my mother,” Burris said. “They were great.”
The family alleges that Holt stole checks that were stored in a drawer, then intercepted bank statements so that Mrs. Riggs wouldn’t see them.
District Attorney Alan Nash said it appears that Holt stole between $54,000-$84,000, but the family says it’s closer to $87,000.
A string of checks indicate that Holt had been dipping into Mrs. Riggs’ bank accounts for months before she was caught.
On Aug. 8, 2017, Holt allegedly wrote herself a check for $3,700, forging Mrs. Riggs’ signature.
The family has photo copies of all the checks and shared them with the E-T.
The documents show that from Sept. 5, 2017 - Oct. 3, 2017, there were at least eight additional checks Holt wrote to herself totaling $10,280.
And there were more. The largest check she wrote to herself was $14,000 and she wrote checks to two family members for $10,000 each.
The family also alleges that Holt went on a shopping spree at Hulen Mall in Fort Worth with a debit card the family had given her to purchase groceries and medication.
“Then she posted on Facebook about the shopping trip. She said she was tired but had a wonderful time,” Burris said.
Holt’s Facebook page is now deleted but the family says during the months when she was allegedly stealing from Mrs. Riggs, Holt posted photos of herself at Cowboys games. She even purchased two tickets to the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game, according to Burris.
“It wasn’t like she was using the money to help her children,” Burris said. “She was doing things for herself.”
After the family met with police, Holt’s bank accounts were frozen.
“(Holt) called me about an hour later and said ‘What’s going on?’” Mrs. Riggs recalled. “I told her that the bank called and she started crying and said, ‘Oh Mrs. Riggs, how can I pay you back?’”
Holt has reportedly hired two attorneys - David Stokes and Randy Thomas - who were both contacted for this story but didn’t return calls for comment.
Police issued a warrant for Holt’s arrest and she was taken into custody in Cleburne. She was brought back to the Erath County Jail and later bonded out.
Holt was indicted by an Erath County grand jury in January for theft.
Because the case involves an elderly victim, the charge is enhanced, becoming a second degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison, according to Nash.
The family has had no contact with Holt since discovering the alleged theft.
The family is angry and they want justice.
“The stress this has put on my mother is what I resent the most,” Burris said.
The family has been able to recoup some of the stolen money.
“Four of the five banks made restitution - Citizens National Bank, First Financial, Bank of America and State Farm,” Burris said. “Only one bank refused. They claim my mother was negligent for giving (Holt) access to the checkbooks. She wrote checks for my mother because my mother’s hands hurt, but she was never authorized to write checks to herself. Those were definite forgeries.”
The E-T is not naming the bank because Nash says they are exercising their rights under the law to not pay the money back.
“I believe my mother was victimized twice - once by Andrea Holt and again by the bank,” Burris said.
And as the wheels of justice continue to turn, the family is sharing their story with the hope that it will help others.
“I want to make clear that there are a lot of good caregivers out there who don’t take advantage of the elderly,” Burris said. “But this could happen to anyone at any age. It’s terrible. I want her to go to prison.”