QUAKERTOWN, Pa. (WTXF) - Four members of a Quakertown-area family have pleaded guilty to the fatal neglect of an elderly relative found dehydrated, malnourished and suffering from severe infections in late 2016.
Albert Weaver Jr., his wife Virginia Weaver, their daughter Amanda Maria Weaver and her boyfriend Anthony James Dorney each admitted Monday in Bucks County Court to first-degree misdemeanor counts of neglect of 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.
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.
Virginia Weaver, Amanda Weaver and Dorney also pleaded guilty to theft charges, admitting they stole money from Weaver Sr. and squandered much of it on alcohol, drugs, guns, video games, court costs and other expenditures not related to his care.
All four resided rent-free in a pair of houses that the victim owned on the 100 block of Union Road, Richland Township.
The investigation began after Dorney called 911 on Nov. 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.
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.
Judge Wallace Bateman Jr. ordered three of the defendants to serve time in state prison for their role in the man's neglect. Amanda Weaver will learn her sentence at a later hearing.
"It is incomprehensible to me that a family who claims to love someone could treat him this way," Bateman said. "I think he was a cash cow for you. You took his money and didn't give him the slightest bit of care."
The judge sentenced Dorney, 29, and Virginia Weaver, 49, to each spend two to five years in state prison. Weaver Jr. was ordered to serve 15 to 48 months.
Virginia Weaver, who admitted she continued cashing her father-in-law's pension checks after his death, also must make restitution of $3,615.06. She apologized for mistreating the man.
"I'm really sorry for everything that happened to him, and I'm going to regret it for the rest of my life," she said.
Family members called by attorney John Fioravanti to testify on his client's behalf said Virginia Weaver's behavior was out of character, noting she has taken care of several elderly families over the last three decades. They pointed to the woman's bouts with alcoholism and depression as factors contributing to her conduct.
Dorney, who placed the 911 call for Weaver Sr., said he too feels badly for his treatment of the man who housed him for years. Through questioning by his attorney Sharif Abaza, Dorney highlighted his own use of methamphetamine as contributing to his role in the neglect.
Both Dorney and Virginia Weaver said they have been tasked with supervising inmates in various capacities while at the Bucks County Correctional Facility. Bateman noted they are willing to care for strangers, but decided to neglect Weaver Sr.
Weaver Jr. said he feels "foolish" for what happened to his father, and agreed in court with his attorney Keith Williams,' who said his client "was a bad son."
The man said he rarely went to visit with his father, despite living next door, and said his father's extensive injuries and illness could have been prevented had he paid more attention.
The judge pointed out that after years of working as a maintenance man at the Bucks County-run long-term nursing facility Neshaminy Manor, Weaver Jr. should be well aware of just how much care the elderly can require.
Amanda Weaver, 27, through her attorney Bradley Bastedo, requested and was granted a 30-day referral of sentence to receive a mental health evaluation.