Bucks County family charged with neglecting 84-year-old man who died in their care
QUAKERTOWN — Four members of a Quakertown-area family are accused of neglecting their 84-year-old patriarch, who died of starvation and septic shock caused by deep, infected bedsores 12 days after being admitted to the hospital.
Three of the suspects are also charged with stealing from or cashing pension checks belonging to the victim, Albert Weaver Sr., who died on Nov. 22, 2016.
The suspects include Weaver’s son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, as well as the granddaughter’s live-in boyfriend, according to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. All four suspects lived rent-free in two houses owned by the victim on the 100 block of Union Road in Richland Township.
Albert Weaver Jr., 52, Virginia L. Weaver, 49, Amanda Marie Weaver, 26, and Anthony James Dorney, 33, are all charged with neglect of a care-dependent person and recklessly endangering another person. The first charge is a first-degree felony with a potential prison term of 10 to 20 years, while the latter charge is a second-degree misdemeanor, the Bucks County DA says.
All but Weaver Jr. are also charged with theft by unlawful taking. Amanda Weaver and Dorney are further charged with conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking. The theft-related charges are all third-degree felonies punishable by up to three and a half to seven years in prison, the DA’s office says.
Dorney eventually summoned an ambulance for the victim, whom one paramedic said “looked like a skeleton with skin hanging on him” when he was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in Quakertown on Nov. 10, 2016.
A nurse at the hospital told police that the victim was suffering from “the worst case of neglect (she) has seen” in her 11 years as an emergency room trauma nurse, according to the DA.
The suspects were arraigned Tuesday morning before Magisterial District Judge Lisa J. Gaier of Richland Township, who set bail at $500,000 for each defendant. She set a tentative preliminary hearing date of April 5 for all four.
Albert Weaver Sr. “put his care in the hands of people that he loved and supposedly was able to trust,” District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said after the arraignment. “Instead of taking care of him, they viewed him as essentially an ATM machine. They used him for his money, they used him for a residence … They let him waste away until he essentially died of neglect.”
The investigation began after Dorney called 911 on Nov. 10, 2016, to report an unresponsive person at his house. An ambulance crew from St. Luke’s Hospital in Quakertown found Albert Weaver Sr. on the floor in an unkempt, garbage-strewn house described by a paramedic as having “the smell of infection,” according to the probable cause affidavit.
The same paramedic later told police that Weaver was cold to the touch, non-verbal, dehydrated and severely malnourished, with several deep bed sores that were infected, causing him to be in septic shock, the affidavit said.
Emergency room personnel at St. Luke’s, suspecting elder abuse, contacted police.
Further examination found that Weaver’s body was so malnourished that it had begun consuming its own tissues and organs for sustenance, the affidavit said. One bedsore in his sacral area, which required surgery, was so severe that after dead tissue was removed the bones of Weaver’s spine were exposed.
After 11 days, Weaver was transferred on Nov. 21, 2016, to St. Luke’s Hospice in Bethlehem, where he died the next day.
Two forensic pathologists – one of whom conducted Weaver’s autopsy – concluded that Weaver’s death was the result of his having been neglected, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, Virginia Weaver told police that she was her father-in-law’s primary caregiver, assisted by her daughter and Dorney. Albert Weaver Sr. lived with the younger couple in a house behind that of his son and daughter-in-law.
All four were allowed to live rent- and utility-free in return for caring for Albert Weaver Sr., and most of his pension and Social Security income went toward their living and personal expenses, the affidavit said.
Virginia Weaver acknowledged that her father-in-law complained of pain from sores that had been developing over six months, yet at the time of his death he had not been to a doctor in the past 11 months, the affidavit said.
Dorney told investigators that he, too, knew of the sores on Weaver’s body, and that Weaver hadn’t eaten for two to three weeks, the affidavit said. He told investigators that he delayed calling for help because he was afraid of losing his residence or custody of his children.
An investigation of Weaver’s bank account showed it was jointly held by Albert Weaver Sr. and Virginia Weaver since it was opened in 2013.
Between that date and January 2017, the affidavit said, more than $150,000 was deposited into the account, mostly from Albert Weaver Sr.’s pension and Social Security payments.
By January 2017, the balance stood at $523, the affidavit said, with only $6,417.72 having been put “towards items that were immediately identifiable as being associated with Albert Weaver Sr.,” the affidavit said. Those items consisted of insurance premium payments and property tax payments.
For three months after Weaver’s death, the affidavit said, Virginia Weaver continued to endorse and deposit her father-in-law’s pension checks from AMETEK Inc. She is charged with stealing a total of $3,616.06 in this manner.
In addition, the affidavit said, a number of personal checks from the joint bank account were not signed by Albert Weaver Sr. or Virginia Weaver, but instead were made out to Dorney or Amanda Weaver. Police “determined that, conservatively, $4,400 was stolen from Weaver Sr. by both Amanda Weaver and Anthony Dorney,” the affidavit said.