ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - A St. Louis County man has been charged with abusing his mother after police found the two living in squalid conditions in a ranch home near Creve Coeur in December. A probable cause statement from County Police indicated the 82-year-old woman was bedridden and had not bathed in six months. The floor and sinks in the home were covered with mold, ashes, cigarette butts, feces and broken glass. The statement also said "The Defendant denies his mother food and he brings her dirty water."
Police said the woman called police to complain about her 56-year-old son. Once they inspected the home, they called the Missouri Elder Abuse and Neglect Hotline to report the situation. Another son told News 11 he is now supervising the care of their mother and that his brother was not taking medication for his mental illness. The suspect denied abusing her and described his mother as drinking too much.
The St. Louis County Prosecutor charged the man with Elder Abuse in the Third Degree Class A Misdemeanor.
St. Louis County's Department of Public Works Problem Properties Unit posted an "Order to Vacate" on the house which someone had tried to remove. The suspect, who was still living there, said his mother had gone to live with his brother.
Elder law attorney Martha Brown of Webster Groves said, "Most neglect and abuse, elder abuse does occur at the hand of family member." She added “A significant number of those family members have some form of mental illness."
She said only about 20 percent of the cases of elder abuse or neglect are actually reported.
State workers who handle abuse complaints can seek emergency guardianship orders from a court if they need to remove an individual for their safety. Brown says a shortage of caseworkers has strained the system.
Adult abuse hotlines
- Missouri Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-392-0210
Illinois Adult Protective Services Hotline: 1-866-800-1409