Police arrested a Pennsylvania woman on Tuesday in connection with the death of her 83-year-old mother, who prosecutors said was found covered in feces and sores a couple of months before her death.
Ellyn Gottlieb, 58, of Havertown, is charged with first-degree neglect of a care-dependent person, first-degree aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter, theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception. Authorities have not made public the name of Gottlieb’s mother.
“This is a tragic case where a mother was inhumanely treated by her daughter, the person entrusted with her care, ultimately resulting in the victim’s death,” Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland said. “Ellyn Gottlieb clearly had no regard for human decency and life, as she stole from her mother and left her to die due to lack of basic care.”
In a statement posted on Facebook, Copeland wrote that County of Delaware Services for the Aging (COSA) tried to check on the well-being of the victim during two visits on Jan. 10 and 11, 2018 but Gottlieb wouldn’t let the representatives in.
Prosecutors said COSA called Haverford Police during the second January visit and “after much discussion” Gottlieb allowed police to enter the home.
“The residence had structural damage, water leaks, exhibited signs of hoarding, and the odor of urine and feces emanated throughout the home,” wrote Copeland, who added that when police spoke to the victim, she declined medical attention and confirmed that her daughter was caring for her.
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Prosecutors said Haverford Police and Narberth Ambulance were called to the victim’s home six days later, on Jan. 17, for “lifting assistance” after she fell.
“Narberth Ambulance personnel observed hoarding, structural damage, feces, and flies within the home,” Copeland said.
When the victim was transported to the hospital, prosecutors said she had “caked-on feces on her body as well as significant skin breakdown, including numerous sores and stage four ulcers as a result of being left in the same position for long periods of time.”
The victim was also very hungry and “had so many wounds and sores that they could not be counted,” according to prosecutors who cited the victim’s medical care plan. They added that the victim had a “clear history of dementia” and “could not care for or make decisions for herself.”
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Investigators say the victim was discharged from the hospital on Jan. 26 and admitted to a nursing home, where she died on March 12, 2018.
“The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was bacteremia, with probable sepsis due to multiple stage four ulcers and fistula,” Copeland wrote.
The investigation found that the victim was living in a nursing home until September 2017, when Gottlieb removed her from the facility after officials tried to collect more than $22,000 in outstanding payments.
“As part of the victim’s discharge plan from the nursing home, the victim was scheduled for home services through a home care agency,” Copeland said. “Ellyn Gottlieb did not follow the discharge care plan recommended for the victim; she failed to follow through with doctor appointments for the victim or home health care services.”
She also said the investigation revealed that Gottlieb had power of attorney for the victim and was the only person with access to her mother’s bank accounts. Gottlieb also allegedly took her mother’s monthly pension and social security payments that were deposited into the accounts.
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Copeland added that while the victim was in the nursing home, more than $88,000 was spent from her accounts, including many ATM cash withdrawals and QVC purchases. The Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau reported that the victim’s home was listed for Upset Sale in 2015, 2016, and 2017 for non-payment of taxes.
Fox News’ efforts to reach Gottlieb’s representative were unsuccessful. A woman believed to be Gottlieb’s relative refused to comment.
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