Arlington caretaker could face criminal charges for more patient deaths

Arlington investigators are looking to see if a group home operator should face criminal charges for additional deaths after being charged with the murder of a man who was in her care.

Regla Becquer was the owner of multiple unlicensed group homes in Tarrant County through her company, Loving and Caring for People LLC. She was arrested in February after police began investigating more than a dozen suspicious deaths at the group homes dating back to 2022.

Last Thursday, Becquer was charged with the murder of 60-year-old Steven Kelly Pankratz. He was found unresponsive at an Arlington home on Lake Whitney Drive in January. 

It was one of several unlicensed group homes Becquer operated in Tarrant County. 

"After everything we learned, we think it’s clear she did not love or care for anyone," said Arlington Police Lt. Kimberly Harris.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office declared Pankratz’s death a homicide caused by a lethal mixture of painkillers and antidepressants.

At a press conference Wednesday, investigators gave more details about the case.

"The drugs in his system were never prescribed by doctors," said Arlington Police Det. Krystallyne Robinson. 

Investigators say the brother of Pankratz told them Becquer took over his power of attorney and controlled when he could speak to his brother. 


Group home caretaker gave North Texas man 'handfuls of pills' before his death: police

A North Texas man who died while in the care of the owner of an unlicensed group home told his family he was receiving handfuls of unknown pills twice a day, according to new police documents.

Court documents say in the hours before he died, Pankratz had slurred speech and said he’d been given handfuls of pills.

Among the other suspicious deaths, police say only one autopsy has been performed. 

"A lot of them were cremated or bodies donated to science or buried. That makes it very difficult," Robinson said.

A lengthy police affidavit describes other cases at different homes run by Becquer, including:

  • a woman who died in 2022 with a handwritten will giving Becquer control of her assets.
  • a disabled woman who told police she was held against her will in awful conditions and tried to kill herself to force someone to call 911.
  • a man who died after a suspicious decline in his health, whose family later discovered fraudulent charges to his debit card.

"This is a complex and wide-ranging investigation, and it is not over," said Arlington Police Officer Chris Powell.

More charges are likely to be filed against Becquer. She remains in the Tarrant County jail with a bond set at $1.5 million.