QUAKERTOWN, Pa. (WTXF) - Four members of a Quakertown-area family have been arrested in connection with the fatal neglect and financial abuse of an elderly man in Bucks County.
The suspects are accused of neglecting their 84-year-old patriarch, Albert Weaver Sr., who died 12 days after being hospitalized in a state of starvation and septic shock from deep, infected bedsores.
Three of the suspects were also charged with stealing from Weaver or cashing his pension checks after he died on November 22, 2016.
The suspects include Weaver's son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, as well as the granddaughter's live-in boyfriend. All four resided rent-free in a pair of houses that the victim owned on the 100 block of Union Road, Richland Township.
A paramedic who helped transport Weaver to St. Luke's Hospital in Quakertown told police that Weaver "looked like a skeleton with skin hanging on him," according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.
A nurse who initially treated Weaver that day called it "the worst case of neglect she has seen" in her 11 years as an emergency room trauma nurse, the affidavit said.
Those arrested include 52-year-old Albert Weaver Jr., his 49-year-old wife Virginia Weaver, their 26-year-old daughter Amanda Marie Weaver, and 33-year-old Anthony James Dorney, who lived with Amanda Weaver and ultimately summoned an ambulance.
All have been charged with neglect of a care-dependent person and recklessly endangering another person. The former is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 10 to 20 years in prison, while reckless endangerment is a second-degree misdemeanor.
All but Albert Weaver Jr. have been 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 third-degree felonies, punishable by up to three and one-half to seven years in prison.
Bail has been set at $500,000, 10 percent cash, for each defendant. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 5.
Albert Weaver Sr. "put his care in the hands of people that he loved and supposedly was able to trust," District Attorney Matthew 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 November 10, 2016 to report an unresponsive person at his house. An ambulance crew 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 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.
All four suspects were allowed to live rent- and utility-free in return for caring for Albert Weaver Sr., with most of his pension and Social Security income going 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 11 months prior, 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, only $6,417.72 had 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.