Autopsy pending in Independence elder abuse case

Independence authorities are awaiting autopsy results before considering possible charges in an apparent case of elder abuse so severe that emergency responders described the victim as a “rotting corpse that was still breathing.”

They had to pry Carol F. Brown, 74, from her vinyl reclining chair before taking her to the hospital Oct. 27 to be treated for a possible stroke, according to court records.

Her legs were fused to the chair and had to be separated from the foot-rest portion, leaving behind yellowish skin tissue, the documents said. Authorities noted flying insects around her; a towel and pad in the chair’s seat portion smelled of human waste.

Medical personnel who examined Brown after she arrived at Centerpoint Medical Center found an infestation of maggots inside an open wound around her ankles, the court records said.

Brown later died.

An investigator with the Missouri Division of Senior and Disability Services told authorities that she spoke with the victim’s son, who identified himself as his mother’s caretaker. The son said his mother had been in the chair since Oct. 23 and that he did not bathe her or help her to the bathroom because “he was honoring her wish to die in her home.”

He told the investigator that he provided his mother with tomato and chicken noodle soup, and that he had applied for state aid to assist in her care, according to court records.

Authorities obtained a search warrant Nov. 2 for the home in the 300 block of North Peck Drive. They found about 25 vials of prescription medication as well as a soiled towel and a recliner chair, a portion of which had been cut out.

Independence police are awaiting autopsy results from the Jackson County Medical Examiner, said Tom Gentry, Independence police spokesman.