Updated w/ coroner, sheriff, jail booking info: Parents arrested in son's death

Man's body discovered Sunday; sheriff's deputies call it worst case of neglect.
Courtney Astolfi
Jun 18, 2014

astolfi@sanduskyregister.com

A Groton Township couple was arrested on manslaughter charges Wednesday after their adult son died over the weekend in what Erie County deputies described as one of the worst cases of medical neglect they'd ever seen.

David Arthur Sr., 54, and his wife, Deborah Arthur, 46, both of the 7400 block of Billings Road, were each charged with involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, and failing to provide for a functionally impaired person, a fourth-degree felony.

The pair turned themselves in Wednesday around 12:30 p.m. at the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

Deplorable conditions

Erie County deputies were called to the family's home Sunday morning after David Sr.'s biological son and Deborah's stepson, David Arthur Jr., 33, died, Erie County Chief Deputy Jared Oliver said.

When deputies entered the Arthurs' home that day, they were met with a grisly scene.

David Jr. was severely malnourished and covered in bed sores, Oliver said. According to a preliminary autopsy, David Jr.'s body weighed just 94 pounds. Just three years ago, he weighed more than 300 pounds, Erie County coroner Brian Baxter said.

“It appeared as if he'd basically been laying on the bed for an extended amount of time — (months) is a safe assumption,” Oliver said. Further, David Jr. had not visited a doctor in years, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

David Jr. had been in bed so long there was an indentation in the shape of his body in the mattress, and the bedding was covered in human waste, according to investigators.

On Sunday, the couple told deputies David Jr. was essentially fine the day prior; they said he ate three meals on Saturday, deputies said.

However, Baxter reviewed the circumstances and the Lucas County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy Tuesday. They found David Jr.'s death was caused by ongoing neglect, officials said.

He had pneumonia and multiple gaping ulcers, Baxter said. He added that David Jr. had so little body fat that the infected ulcers seeped all the way down to the bone tissue, causing some of the man's bones to protrude through the skin entirely.

“(The coroner) said the medical neglect was an overriding cause of his death,” Oliver said. “His condition was probably one of the worst I've ever seen.”

Parents took charge of medical care

David Sr. allegedly told investigators on Sunday that Deborah was David Jr.'s primary caretaker, due to how busy he was with work.

But Deborah herself even acknowledged the deplorable conditions in which David Jr. languished, Oliver said.

“She's an LPN who works in home healthcare, who, on her own admission, said she would've reported anyone else living in those conditions to her supervisor,” Oliver said.

In the three years David Jr. had lived at the Billings Road home, his condition markedly and rapidly declined, Sigsworth said, citing nursing home documents.

Officials are still trying to determine why the couple allegedly neglected David Jr. until it led to his death, Sigsworth said.

"We don't know why and that's the question. That's part of the ongoing investigation: to attempt to answer that question," Sigsworth said.

Medical history

David Jr. was involved in a motor vehicle accident about 15 years ago when he was still a teenager. As a result, he spent a prolonged period of time in a nursing home due to a brain injury.

But in the past few years, David Jr. moved home and was under the care of his father and stepmother ever since, Oliver said.

The couple told investigators that David Jr.'s condition worsened about one year ago. Prior to that, they said he was cognizant and lived a relatively normal life, Oliver said.

Deputies have not yet verified that information though, as they are still awaiting interviews with other family members.

Arthurs arrested when arrived for questioning

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter authorized the couple's charges in light of autopsy results, and the pair was arrested Wednesday afternoon.

They went to the sheriff's office because they knew they were wanted for questioning, but when they arrived, were instead served with their charges, Oliver said.

Nonetheless, investigators interviewed David Sr. and Deborah following their arrest. 

A Friday funeral is planned for David Jr., but it remains unclear if the Arthurs will attend.

"In order for them to attend the funeral, the judge would have to order us to take them (there). We will wait for further order of the court," Sigsworth said.

In the meantime, the couple is awaiting their Friday morning arraignment in Erie County Municipal Court.

Both are now being held at the Erie County jail without bond. 

Comments

seriously 1137

Disgusting. There's no excuse for that. At least his suffering is over now.

VeggieGirl

Horrifying. Deplorable. Sickening. And so very, very sad.

William Jeffers...

WOW! This is just heartbreaking. How can any parent do that to their own child? God help us all...what is this world coming too?

lunchtime 175

its obvious they never let anyone in to visit their son or someone else would of seen the conditions the son lived in and how he was not being taken care of properly. These people should spend the rest of their life in prison for what they done. There is no question that the lack of proper care led to their sons death. They could of taken him to a facility that would of taken good care of him or notify someone that they were unable to properly care for him instead of just letting him lay there and die. How cruel can human beings be to another person let alone a family member??

MrsCowboy

So sad. Unbelievable that these obviously mentally ill , cruel, individuals did this and could just watch it happen. I hope they are locked up for life

LookingDown

First of all mentally I'll? No just plan sick! If they were mentally I'll why would you want to put them in prison? They are just sick! And on top of it she us a home healthcare nurse! Omg

Babo

I agree with you. The fact that she is a home healthcare nurse and knew she would have reported these conditions if it were somebody else makes this a case of murder not just manslaughter. I hope Baxter presents this case to the Grand Jury and asks them to indict for murder.

SamAdams

I agree that this isn't "just" manslaughter, but I have one more reason besides your own: This wasn't a quick passion-of-the-moment or stupid-mistake-of-the-minute death! By definition, this took awhile. At any time during those days of torture, the couple could have put an end to it. They didn't. THAT requires conscious choice! And in my opinion, that makes their crime far more egregious than a split second of deadly carelessness.

Help him

I agree this was a slow torture of murder. There's got to be something we can do legally as a community to help David get his justice. One thing for sure we know where the parents are going when they die.

LILLY VONSCHTOOP

I agree and I hope the other individuals that she was providing "home health care" for have been checked on.If this is how she treats a relative I can't imagine how she might treat a stranger. This was a slow lingering death which definately implies premeditation

Babo

Yet another factor ..if they were paid to care for him but instead tortured him (starvation is an extremely painful way to die); in addition to a purposeful premeditated killing (murder) it becomes Aggravated Murder a capital crime because they profited from killing him.

slugger0528

A lpn even what the heck they need to be treated the same way these are some selfish and stupid people hope they spen alot of timein prison .....rip david jr

mimi's word

Were they receiving state aid? I love how the obituary says to make memorial donations to the family...not on your life.

JACKEL

I like to donate my time to the whipping !

FlowerMom

agreed.

44846GWP

She can't be that stupid if she is a LP Nurse. Lock the bi-ch up, and her old man.

FlowerMom

Yes she can if she got her papers a long time ago. Who checks up on these public workers? Must be another government worker that is not checked up on.

LookingDown

No she even stated she would report the conditions if it was at a home she was working for

oneandonly

Just sad I don't even work in a hospital or that field and I could've taken better care of him then theses people. RIP David Jr.

queenjhb

LPN ,works in home healthcare? I've said it before, some home healthcare nurses seem lazy & quite honestly unhygienic & dirty. I've seen [home healthcare nurses] not aids, in friends & neighbors homes, [some are alright] but by and in large part ,really grimy. Stepmom is disgusting.

mhs parent

I do not dispute that the way this young man was treated is deplorable and should have NEVER happened especially at the hands of ANY healthcare worker. This nurse is not only facing jail time she will be investigated by the Ohio Department of Nursing and will lose her nursing license. As a LPN myself and as a Home Health Worker it is very offensive to me that you seem to be talking about all Home Health Nurses as a whole and comparing us to this disgusting Women. Please do not do this, there so many wonderful caring people out there who go out everyday and are dedicated to caring for their patients, and present themselves in a very clean professional way. I do not know what happened in this case, its sad and how any parent health care worker or not could allow their child no matter how old to be subjected to those kids of conditions is totally beyond me. May this young man rest in peace.

queenjhb

mhs parent, I really am not lumping all home healthcare nurses as lazy and with poor personal hygiene & dirty clothing. I have seen this many times . My neighbor is a home healthcare nurse, unless he has 6 pairs of the same pants & same tee shirt [has silk screen graphics on the shirt]he wears the same clothes everyday, he smells like b.o. Just check out any home healthcare nurses before you let them touch your loved one. I'm sure you are great, as are your co-workers. Yes this women is awful, she also was in other peoples homes , caring for other peoples loved ones . [heads up]

lmalley77

Unbelievable!!!! Mimi, I guarantee they were probably receiving some type of money for him, and that is probably the only reason they kept him just barely alive! So sad that this man had to suffer that way!!! Can you imagine what he had to go through!? Nobody knows for sure if he was cognitively aware of what was going on or not. There is a very very good chance that he was, and that he knew how badly they were treating him but he couldn't physically do anything about it! How painful and horrendous that must have been for him to have to go through!!! And at the hands of his own Father and step mother at that!!!! Sickening pieces of trash need to be fed to the wolves!!!

dorothy gale

Tie them to a bed and keep them there for a year, in their own waste, and starve them! I am so sick of hearing about psychos like these two! Make the punishments fit the crimes!

FlowerMom

These two people are NUTS. Put them away for good. Home health? Who checks on these people. Someone messed up hiring her.

WhatTheHeck

Tree stump. Tack balls. Push over slowly.

OnTheBrightSide

Where are the other two brothers? Did they ever visit or live there any longer? I suspect the pathetic parents simply closed the door to his room and never went back in. He could speak and carry on a conversation. I can't help but wonder, did he lay crying out for help or food until no longer able to do so or did she drug him to keep him quiet? I sometimes wish the law was "an eye for an eye."

OnTheBrightSide

Also, where is his real "mom?"

YouMustBeJoking

I heard this morning that an older woman was found dead with a bullet in her head, behind a garage on the 1900 block of Harrison st. Wonder why the register hasn't mentioned it yet?

Courtney Astolfi

Officers did respond to that scene, but the death is not currently being investigated as suspicious, according to Sandusky police. Injuries currently appear to be self-inflicted.

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