CASTRO VALLEY -- One former resident of Valley Springs Manor is missing and about 14 others are moving from hospital rooms to skilled nursing homes as the Alameda County Sheriff's Office pursues a criminal investigation into whether elders were abused at the now-shut residential care facility.

"If you abandon people you're supposed to be caring for, if you're entrusted to care for someone who can't care for themselves, and you walk away, it's abandonment," Sheriff's Lt. Emmanuel Christy said. "That can be considered elder abuse."

Investigators revealed Wednesday that they have been unable to find one 65-year-old resident, Edmund Bascom. He wandered away from the Castro Valley home Friday, just a day before paramedics rescued the remaining residents after discovering the home was closed and finding no professional caregivers -- just a cook and janitor -- monitoring them.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Department tape is seen in front of he Valley Springs Manor care home on Apricot Way in Castro Valley, Calif., on Sunday,
Alameda County Sheriff's Department tape is seen in front of he Valley Springs Manor care home on Apricot Way in Castro Valley, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. Residents of the home were evacuated on Saturday afternoon after the facility was shut down and their license was suspended by the California Department of Social Services on Thursday. Only several staff members, including a cook, assistant cook and a housekeeper, remained at the facility until Saturday. (Jane Tyska//Bay Area News Group)

Investigators are not blaming the skeleton crew staffing for the disappearance of Bascom, whose mental illness caused him to regularly walk away from homes where he lived, but they do suspect that the facility neglected more than a dozen long-term residents left there without adequate care over the weekend.

Investigators from an FBI health care fraud unit and the state Attorney General's office are convening with local law enforcement officials Thursday to discuss a probe that could last for months.

"These are all people who have reached out to us to inquire about what's going on," said Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson at a news conference Wednesday.

Owned and operated by San Leandro resident Hilda Manuel and her family members, the home had been battling with California's elder care oversight agency for months over the state's attempt to revoke their license over a host of unfixed violations at the Castro Valley home and another they run in Modesto. The Manuels' lawyer, Orrin Grover, disputes the sheriff's allegations and said Valley Springs was properly staffed over the weekend for the small number of mostly indigent residents still waiting to find a new place to live.

County officials are pointing fingers not just at the Manuels, but also state officials who "should have been coordinating the transition" of residents after the home's sudden closure, said Victoria Tolbert, who directs adult aging and Medi-Cal services for Alameda County.

A spokesman for the state Department of Social Services acknowledged late Tuesday there was a break in proper protocol that instructs its staff to work with the home and local agencies to ensure everyone is moved.

"While a few Valley Springs Manor staff agreed to continue to provide care to the remaining residents awaiting placement and transfer, this is not standard procedure and should not have occurred," Michael Weston said in a statement.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Department tape is seen in front of the Valley Springs Manor care home on Apricot Way in Castro Valley, Calif., on Sunday,
Alameda County Sheriff's Department tape is seen in front of the Valley Springs Manor care home on Apricot Way in Castro Valley, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. Residents of the home were evacuated on Saturday afternoon after the facility was shut down and their license was suspended by the California Department of Social Services on Thursday. Only several staff members, including a cook, assistant cook and a housekeeper, remained at the facility until Saturday. (Jane Tyska//Bay Area News Group)

County officials applauded the two workers, Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, for staying on to help residents despite no pay and increasingly unsanitary conditions. But they also said neither those workers nor anyone else informed police and paramedics that the center was closed until after they had already made three routine visits, one to report that Bascom was missing and another for a resident's breathing problems Saturday morning.

The sheriff's department responded to the home 32 times this year, said Nelson, who added police calls from senior homes are not uncommon. What was unusual, Nelson said, was the mess emergency crews witnessed when they arrived late Saturday.

"It was just unkempt," he said.

On Oct. 18, he said some employees had stopped working after being told they would no longer be paid. State officials then gave 72-hours notice that they were ordering the home's closure last Thursday. About 19 residents were still living there Friday, down from 30 just days earlier.

Lori Pendleton, of Hayward, a caregiver at the facility, said she was surprised and upset when she saw a news report Sunday that residents had been there over the weekend. Pendleton said she had been told all residents would be moved out by Oct. 24 after state officials posted a closure notice. "I didn't know residents were still there," said Pendleton, whose last day was Oct. 23.

She described conditions at the home as having been deplorable for a long time.

Most of the residents shifting from hospital rooms to new homes are settling in skilled nursing facilities, which indicates the care they were getting at Valley Springs -- an assisted living home without nurses -- was probably not sufficient, said Tolbert, the county official.

"It looks like (the owner) was just taking anyone in who could pay for the beds, and not providing an appropriate level of care," Tolbert said.

Rebecca Parr contributed to this report. Matt O'Brien covers Alameda County government. Contact him at 510-208-6429.

Missing resident
Police say anyone who sees the missing Valley Springs Manor resident, 65-year-old Edmund Bascom, should call his social worker at 510-681-3990. He was last seen at the San Leandro BART station Friday afternoon wearing a Raiders shirt, blue pants, black boots and a fishing hat.