(WSVN) - She had a terrible drug addiction, got evicted from her apartment, and her mother was taken away. Today she is clean but has been unable to find her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. She asked Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser if the government has to tell her where her mother is.
It’s an understatement when I say that Elizabeth has led a tough life.
Elizabeth Garrido: “I had my son, like, two months before my 14th birthday, so I really wasn’t doing drugs.”
Elizabeth’s mother helped her raise her son, and during that time, Elizabeth turned to drugs.
Elizabeth Garrido: “You go through stages: the weed when you’re young and the drinking, and then I ran into that, and I just had no idea, really, what I was getting myself into.”
What she got into in her 20s was an addiction to opiates.
Elizabeth Garrido: “It’s sad. It’s sad because you pretty much can’t do nothing unless you have it, so yeah, it’s not pretty at all.”
She was addicted for years, then cleaned up.
In her mid-40s, she was taking care of her mother, Caridad Garrido, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Elizabeth Garrido: “Long story short, I ended up relapsing.”
She lost her job, couldn’t pay the rent, and then the Broward sheriff came to evict Elizabeth and her mother.
Elizabeth Garrido: “So the day that I knew that the sheriff was coming, I left her her little clothes in the side of the nightstand and got her all pretty, and I left a note, and I was honest. I said, ‘This is Elizabeth Garrido, her daughter. I relapsed. I can’t take care of her no more. Please take care of my mom.'”
For two years, Elizabeth was on the street — addicted, homeless — and then she was able to say, “It has to stop.”
Elizabeth Garrido: “I just got tired. I got tired. I ended up getting clean, which again, I have about a year and a half clean now again.
The first thing she did in rehab was try to find her now 84-year-old mother Caridad.
Elizabeth Garrido: “‘And she’s very old, and I would like to see my mother, you know, before she passes, of course. It’s mother.'”
She contacted every agency she could find.
Elizabeth Garrido (on the phone): “I’m calling because I’m looking for my mother. Her name is Caridad Garrido.”
Elizabeth Garrido: “So I call Social Security, and unfortunately, they can’t give me the information of where her check is going.”
No luck tracking down Caridad.
Elizabeth Garrido: “I just never got anywhere, so I reached out to you guys. Here we are.”
Caridad has Alzheimer’s. She may not even know she isn’t seeing her family, but Elizabeth knows.
Elizabeth Garrido: “I need to try; I can’t just give up. I’ve kind of gave up on a lot of things in my life, which is where it got me to a whole lot of chaos in my life, so I’m trying to do everything different now, so I need to fight for what I need to fight for.”
Well, Howard, if the federal government knows where a family member is, such as sending a Social Security check to them, do they have to release the location to the family?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “If the person is dead, yes, they can. If they are still alive, the federal government legally cannot tell you anything.”
I started looking. The good news: the Broward and Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s offices, the Broward Health Department and the state’s Office of Vital Statistics told me they had no record of Caridad Garrido dying.
While the Social Security Administration won’t reveal anything, we were able to determine their records do not show Caridad as deceased.
The Department of Children and Families, which looks out for endangered adults, would not tell me if they knew Caridad’s location.
I did an extensive data search. I found two possible addresses for Caridad.
I went to both. No luck finding Elizabeth’s mother.
Elizabeth Garrido: “I love you, and I just want to see her again.”
Elizabeth’s last hope? Someone watching her on Help Me Howard knows where her mother is.
Elizabeth Garrido: “Please, if somebody is out there and you are caring of her, or know somebody that is – so this is, like, my last piece of hope that I get to see my mother again.”
Imagine that. Your mother is probably alive in a nursing home in South Florida, and you don’t know where.
It’s stunning that government agencies might know where Caridad is and won’t tell Elizabeth. Wow.
But if you know where Elizabeth’s mother is, you can tell her. Just contact us.
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