VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In 2015, Andrea Tembreull’s mother died of dementia, leaving her elderly father devastated and exhausted.
Andrea was living in North Dakota at the time. Her husband was stationed at Minot Air Force Base.
This was when John Gatchell, 55, started befriending Tembreull’s father.
“You know, he was lonely and grieving after the death of my mom,” Andrea said.
Gatchell started borrowing money from her father and making large purchases using the elderly man’s credit cards and bank accounts. Gatchell had the elderly man take out two mortgage loans, then used the money for himself. Gatchell also convinced Andrea’s father to buy him a Jaguar.
“I really didn’t know how to intervene,” Andrea explained. “It’s a delicate. You don’t want to jump into your parents’ life, you don’t want them to feel like you’re interfering, but at the same time I knew something was wrong.”
Gatchell pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding Andrea’s father of $157,000.
Court documents also show Gatchell facilitated a marriage between his own girlfriend and the victim to gain access to even more money.
Andrea reached out to adult protective services. There was enough evidence for a competency hearing and Andrea was named guardian.
The marriage was annulled.
Andrea says her father was left financially, physically and emotionally a mess. She wants others to know what happened to her family could happen to theirs.
“Just be mindful and watchful, and stay close, because you never know what’s happening. you never know about the robo calls. you never know about unscrupulous people in the community who may take advantage of someone who’s grieving.”
Gatchell faces up to 20 years behind bars.