The charges against former Mineral County Sheriff Stewart Handte for the August kidnapping of an elderly Alzheimer patient from Stone Valley Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Reno have been lowered.
The news of these charges came out after the patient, Susan Hillygus died on Oct. 16, according to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s office last week.
Susan had been taken from her Reno care center by Handte and an unnamed individual according to original documents. She was found a week later in Los Angeles, unharmed, in the home of her brother where her son, Roger Hillygus had fled with her.
A representative of the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office stated that due to Susan’s medical condition “[it] would have of course been a challenge, as any case with a victim who may not be able to testify.” They continued saying, “Her death is sad for her family and the same type of challenge to a case when a victim is not here to testify.”
Handte, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, drew national attention after Reno police chose to charge him in this case. He was forcefully arrested by over a half-dozen officers, in tactical gear; just one day before Roger and his mother were found in California.
Released without bail, though Handte had been charged with felonies, the charge of “kidnapping a victim over 60 years of age” has been dropped and only the conspiracy charge stands. The Reno Gazette-Journal stated that Handte had “played a principal role” in kidnapping the elder Hillygus.
The case of Roger and Handte are scheduled for conference just a week before Christmas. Attorney Joey Gilbert will represent Handte in this case.
Roger still faces charges of second-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and burglary.