A 65-year-old Florida man is accused of starving his mother, 92, to death, and her mummified remains were found stashed in a bedroom inside a mobile home they shared, reported the Balm Peach Post. On December 15, 2015, Robert Hart reportedly called 911 after discovering his mother Violet Barker was dead in the bedroom.
However, when police officials arrived at the home in the 33000 block of Azua Bay in suburban Boynton Beach, it was ascertained that her body was in an advanced stage of decomposition, indicating that the elderly woman had been dead in her bedroom for quite some time.
According to a news release, “The victim’s body had decomposed to a point that parts of her had mummified. There were live maggots, numerous flies in the residence.”
Hart told police officials that, one day, she told him that she wanted to go in her room to “hibernate” and asked to be left alone. When she went into her bedroom, she never came out and her son, who was her caregiver and relied on her for financial support, refused to check on her until it was too late.
The Florida man added that although he was at their mobile home every night, he didn’t notice the odor emanating from her “bedroom because he has allergies.” But Florida police found his explanation to be suspicious, as they found air freshener in the home, according to WPTV West Palm Beach.
After the elderly woman’s mummified remains were found in her bedroom, investigators began questioning her neighbors, who claimed they hadn’t seen the woman in nearly a year.
“She was very antisocial,” said Carl Minnberg, who had been her neighbor for over 20 years. “We’d say hello at the mailbox. She’d thank me for bringing in her garbage can. She was really just a hermit.”
“I hadn’t seen her in more than a year, but I figured she was really sick or something.”
Shirley Frank, another neighbor and a good friend of the elderly woman, stated that although she moved in and out of the community throughout the years, she always checked in on Barker after her return. However, her concerns grew when she last visited in 2013 and discovered that there was something wrong, but Frank didn’t specify.
Shortly after, the Department of Children and Families got involved and conducted an investigation. When they visited Barker’s home, it was discovered that she “reeked of urine and was merely skin and bones with waist-length hair matted on her head, and had dried blood on her arm and face.”
— Travelaviator (@Travelaviator) March 23, 2016
DCF was then “granted court order” to move the elderly woman into an assisted living facility, but at the end of the year, the court decided that she no longer needed assisted living and was moved back into her home to live with her son.
“I’ll never understand why they let her back.” said Frank. “It’s a shame.”
Nearly two years later, Violet Barker was found dead in her home. When an autopsy report indicated that the cause of death was starvation, and that she had been dead in her home for at least two weeks, a warrant for her son’s arrest was issued.
Robert Hart was arrested on Tuesday, which would have been his mother’s 93rd birthday, and he was charged with “aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult.” He is currently being held at the county jail on a $50,000 bond.
Partially mummified woman recalled as spry, solitary, struggling https://t.co/HE9ZgOVa7u
— WSB Radio (@wsbradio) March 27, 2016
The director for Palm Beach County Victim Services, Nicole Bishop, stated that it’s unfortunate that almost all elderly deaths are a consequent of neglect. She added that “It’s very sad. Sometimes caregivers don’t have the mental or physical capability to take care of these adults. Sometimes they take them home into their own care for economic reasons or to steal their medication.”
“Sometimes the caregiver isn’t able to take handle of taking care of the person. Maybe they’re depressed themselves by the situation, or don’t have support from other family members,” Bishop added. “Intentional and unintentional, in either circumstance, they need assistance.”
[Image via Palm Beach County Jail]