Detroit —Police have launched a probe into a long-term care facility where a man’s body was found in the basement five months after he went missing.
Kam Franks’ sister said he was known to “roam” and “wander” and that the building he called home should have been the first place authorities looked when he was reported missing.
“All you had to do was be in his company,” Kai Franks said Wednesday, two days after her brother’s body was located. “He could feed and wash himself. He was physically active. You just had to watch him.”
The Detroit Police Department is “investigating if there’s any criminal negligence on the part of” Faithful Helping Hands Home Care, said Officer Holly Lance, a spokeswoman. “We are doing a thorough investigation.”
Faithful Helping Hands managers declined to comment on Wednesday.
Authorities have said Franks lived at the facility in the 6200 block of Cadieux, on the city’s east side. The 38-year-old was last seen at the building about 9 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, police reported.
Franks was described as in poor mental condition, according to a notice investigators issued on April 1. He was wearing a brown, quarter-length jacket, blue jeans and black Nike boots.
For months, Kai Franks and other family members believed they’d open the next knock on their door to see Kam’s face.
Kam’s home on the east side was 13 miles away from Kai’s on the west side.
“Kam would walk a country mile with no problem,” she said. “We were all waiting on him to show up.”
Her brother was so known to walk long distances that Franks kept thinking she had seen him out and about.
“I can’t tell you how many times I almost crashed my car, thinking it was him I saw walking,” his sister said.
When Kam was in his early 20s in 2001, his sister said, he almost died in a serious car crash.
“We didn’t think he was going to make it through the night,” Franks said.
But he did, and in the almost two decades after Kam suffered “sporadic” seizures. Those seizures made it dangerous for Kam to live alone, and for a time he lived with his sister.
But his care was more than she could manage. She believed he needed around-the-clock supervision.
“When Kam was around, it was all hands on deck,” Franks said. “He was always a handful.”
Franks said that someone with her brother’s notoriety for wandering should have been watched closely. And she questions whether Detroit police or staff at the facility ever conducted a thorough search of the building when Kam was reported missing.
Kam’s body is in the custody of the Wayne County Medical Examiner. He was so badly decomposed that he will need to be cremated, Franks said. The medical examiner’s work could take “weeks,” she has been told.
“In my mind, he’s still not resting in peace,” she said.
But the family will remember him in the days to come. Franks said she’s tasked younger family members with reaching out to Kam’s friends via social media to spread the word. Memorial plans have not yet been finalized.
Body found in basement
On Saturday, a worker at the property reported finding Franks’ body in the basement, Lance said. It was not clear how long he had been there.
“Police did confirm that (the cause of death) appears to be natural causes due to the fact there were no signs of trauma or foul play,” she told The Detroit News.
Franks’ autopsy results were pending Wednesday, Medical Examiner’s spokesman Michael McElrath said.
A Facebook page listed as affiliated with the Faithful Helping Hands facility said: “We specialize in healthcare, we don’t look at our residents as patients, we look at our residents as family.”
Reached by phone Tuesday night, a woman police described as a caregiver for Franks confirmed she worked there, but declined comment and referred questions to the owners.
Ownership and oversight of the property, also listed online as Faithful Helping Hands Community Services, was unclear.
David Harns, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, said it is not a licensed adult foster care or home for the aged but has been approved as a license-exempt facility under the public health code.
Because the facility is exempt from the license requirement, its employees also do not have to be licensed, Harns confirmed.
State law allows LARA to make such a determination if certain criteria are met, Harns said in an email. He added that exemption may be revoked if the department determines “the person receiving the exemption is found to be negligent, which negligence results in serious physical injury, death of a resident, or serious mental anguish, and there continues to be a risk to the health and safety of the residents at that facility.”