By AMY LINDBLOM
Brunhilde Overstreet has lived alone in Jamestown since her husband died seven months ago.
Her only son died nine years ago. Overstreet, 65, is ill, having recently faced heart surgery.
Day in and day out, she sits in her meticulously clean, small rental house with the drapes drawn, watching television. Her only companion is Sparky, an idolizing toy poodle who shares an easy chair with Overstreet.
When she mentioned she was looking for help around the house, the man who delivered oxygen to her home recommended his daughter, Sabrina Pestoni, and Overstreet readily agreed.
Starting in the spring, Pestoni came once a week to clean the house, run errands and take Overstreet to the doctor, often bringing her 4-year-old daughter with her.
"She was young, friendly, sociable and brought a little bit of life back into the house," Overstreet said. "She was always hugging me and kissing me and saying she loved me."
It was a happy arrangement until $50,000 all the money she had in the world went missing from Overstreet's home safe.
Tuolumne County Deputy District Attorney Eric Hovatter says Overstreet was easy prey for Pestoni, 26, now in the Tuolumne County Jail, charged with one count of burglary and one count of elder abuse, both felonies.
"Elderly people are often lonely, and therefore are often vulnerable to people showing them kindness or attention or feigning kindness or attention," Hovatter said.
Overstreet said she thought she could trust Pestoni because of her father's recommendation.
"He said his daughter could help me and that his wife was a nurse, so I thought everything would be all right," Overstreet said.
But after a few weeks of work, Overstreet said Pestoni began to act suspiciously looking around the house, peeking behind doors, picking up knickknacks and lifting up bills and paperwork Overstreet left on a coffee table.
And Overstreet, who kept spending money in her purse, noticed she was missing $10 and $20 here and there but couldn't remember spending it.