Police are investigating whether neglect at the hands of family members caused the death of an elderly Lawrence man.
Ã¢ÂÂI took care of him the best that I could,Ã¢ÂÂ a teary-eyed Tim Harrell said. Ã¢ÂÂEverything might not have turned out perfect like I wanted it to, but I did the best I could with him.Ã¢ÂÂ
HarrellÃ¢ÂÂs father, 76-year-old Henry Harrell, died Wednesday morning at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Family members took him there Nov. 7. By that time he was in critical condition, according to Lawrence Police.
Ã¢ÂÂHis condition was such that he appeared to be mistreated,Ã¢ÂÂ Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Pattrick said.
Pattrick would not elaborate about Henry HarrellÃ¢ÂÂs condition.
An adult protection service worker from the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services originally contacted police about the case. Detectives immediately began an investigation into Henry HarrellÃ¢ÂÂs 43-year-old son and his 40-year-old daughter-in-law, the main caregivers.
Ã¢ÂÂWe do periodic reports on mistreatment of dependent adults,Ã¢ÂÂ Pattrick said. Ã¢ÂÂHowever, not to this severity. This individual has died.Ã¢ÂÂ
Henry Harrell lived with his son and daughter-in-law at the Hampton Court Apartments, 1722 W. 24th St. An apartment manager said police showed up Monday with a warrant, asking to search the HarrellsÃ¢ÂÂ second-floor apartment.
Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt believe the allegations,Ã¢ÂÂ assistant manager Jill Lewis said. Ã¢ÂÂI know the family and they took care of Ã¢ÂÂ'grandpaÃ¢ÂÂ the best that they could, to the best of their ability.Ã¢ÂÂ
Lewis said many of the HarrellsÃ¢ÂÂ neighbors knew Henry and would watch him if his relatives were out.
Ã¢ÂÂHe was never left alone, ever,Ã¢ÂÂ Lewis said. Ã¢ÂÂThere was always someone there taking care of him around the clock.Ã¢ÂÂ
Tim Harrell said he was among the busiest of the relatives.
Ã¢ÂÂI took care of him for the better part of two years,Ã¢ÂÂ he said. Ã¢ÂÂHe said he wanted to live with me, and I said, Ã¢ÂÂ'OK, IÃ¢ÂÂll take care of you, Dad.Ã¢ÂÂ He didnÃ¢ÂÂt want to go into a rest home.Ã¢ÂÂ
Advocates for the elderly say many people who decide to take on the burden of caring for an ailing relative at home arenÃ¢ÂÂt prepared for the task.
Ã¢ÂÂMost people donÃ¢ÂÂt have the proper medical training,Ã¢ÂÂ said Deanne Bacco, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, a local nonprofit organization specializing in elder abuse. Ã¢ÂÂWe provide one-on-one consultations with registered nurses, so caregivers can learn how to deal with the elderly and those who are frail.Ã¢ÂÂ
The service is free, thanks to a grant from the Sunflower Foundation in Topeka, but Tim Harrell, like many untrained caregivers, was unaware of the services available.
Ã¢ÂÂUnfortunately, Tim was not aware of the community help he could have gotten,Ã¢ÂÂ Lewis said. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm sure that if someone would have sat down and explained there are agencies out there to help, IÃ¢ÂÂm sure he wouldÃ¢ÂÂve gone for it. He would have done anything to help his dad. He loved his dad.Ã¢ÂÂ
Now criminal charges could be forthcoming, Pattrick said, noting that a report on the police investigation would be forwarded to the District AttorneyÃ¢ÂÂs Office.
An autopsy was performed on Henry Harrell Wednesday afternoon, but as of Thursday police still didnÃ¢ÂÂt have a cause of death.
Ã¢ÂÂThe medical information plus the autopsy report will be able to determine how long the neglect had occurred,Ã¢ÂÂ Pattrick said.
Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney said she would not speculate on any possible criminal charges.
Generally, she said, mistreatment of a dependent adult was a misdemeanor unless it involved Ã¢ÂÂinfliction of physical injury, unreasonable confinement or cruel punishment.Ã¢ÂÂ In those cases the crime is a felony.
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs also a possibility of involuntary manslaughter charges against the caregivers because the alleged neglect resulted in a death.
Tim Harrell said such a charge would be unwarranted.
Ã¢ÂÂBecause I took care of my father, now IÃ¢ÂÂm getting the whole nine yards,Ã¢ÂÂ he said. Ã¢ÂÂI may not have brought him in in time, like I should have, but itÃ¢ÂÂs not right for them to treat me like some kind of horrible person.Ã¢ÂÂ