Kimberly Pepper came to the Goeckes' home a few times each week. She helped fix Calvin Goecke's meals. She helped him put on his pajamas.
In late 2010, Goecke fell and dislocated his hip. After that, he needed more help around the house than his then 83-year-old wife could provide.
During that time, Pepper worked as a nurse's aid at Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center. They thought she was nice. They asked if she would consider providing in-home care for Calvin and she agreed.
Pepper was only in the Goeckes' home for two or three hours at a time.
But according to police reports, that was enough time to embezzle more than $25,000 from Calvin and his wife in under a year.
"This man was fighting for his life and she was robbing him blind," said Calvin's wife, who was also a victim of Pepper's alleged criminal activity. "She has no conscience ... you have to be pretty low to steal from a man that is dying."
Calvin Goecke died in his home on 740th Avenue Feb. 10.
Police charged Pepper, 42 of Zearing, with first-degree theft, a Class C felony, two counts of criminal forgery and two counts of identity theft, all Class D felonies.
If found guilty, Pepper could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Goecke's daughter and executor of his estate, Deb Ewoldt, said she discovered some money missing during the time when Pepper was caring for her father.
When confronted, Pepper admitted taking the money, she said. Pepper insisted that she was sorry. She said would pay the money back. The family did not go to the police.
But the magnitude of the theft was unknown until her father died, and they began sifting through their finances to pay for the funeral, Ewoldt said.
At the time, Pepper's alleged minor theft was the least of the Goecke family's worries. When the amount missing came into crisp focus, they began to realize the problem was bigger than they first thought.
"It's not really about the money. It's about the betrayal," Ewoldt said. "My father adored her."
His widow said she just wants to see justice done for her husband's sake. The two were married for 66 years.
Although Pepper is accused of stealing from the Goeckes, Ewoldt said at least she can take some degree of solace in knowing that Pepper provided her father with quality care.
"It's not my place to judger her," she said. "I am more disappointed in myself. I always thought I was a good judge of character."
Marshalltown Police Department cited Pepper May 3. Her attorney, Barry Kaplan, appeared on her behalf Tuesday, according to court documents. Kaplan waved Pepper's preliminary hearing and the court released her under the supervision of the Department of Correctional Services, ordering her to check in within 72 hours.
A call to Kaplan was unreturned at press time.
Ewoldt said the experience has left her and her family not knowing what to do with themselves. They have never been through something like this, she said.
And she hopes they never will again.