1 of 20 client deaths linked to North Texas group homes is ruled homicide. Owner arrested

One of the 20 deaths connected to an investigation of unlicensed group homes in Arlington and Mansfield has been ruled a homicide, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The man, identified as 60-year-old Steven Kelly Pankratz, died on the early morning of Jan. 12. The medical examiner determined mixed drug toxicity of trazodone, tramadol and mirtazapine as the cause of his death.

Tarrant County Jail records show the owner of the homes, Regla Becquer, was booked on a murder charge Thursday in connection to Pankratz’s death. Her bond has not yet been set.

She has been in custody since earlier this year, when she was charged with endangering another resident of the homes.

Arlington police say detectives continue to investigate the deaths of the clients who lived at homes operated by Becquer and her company “Love and Caring for People LLC.”

Becquer and her staff have been accused of preventing patients in their care from seeking medical attention, failing to properly care for them, attempting to keep them from talking with family members, using their debit cards, and using cars and phones of clients who had died, investigators wrote in search warrant affidavits.

She was first arrested on March 11 on the charge of abandoning or endangering an individual creating imminent danger of bodily injury. That charge is related to a woman with disabilities who told police she was abused and held against her will.

Three search warrants obtained by the Star-Telegram in March said investigators identified 13 people who died since 2022 while at or immediately after leaving the group homes.

In April, police linked seven more deaths to the homes.

Several of Becquer’s clients died before the investigation into the group homes began, so getting a lot of specific information may be difficult, Arlington police said in April.

Police say they will soon discuss the latest developments in the investigation in greater detail.