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Sheriff: Husband's Neglect of Disabled, Elderly Wife Leads to Her Death

Brookfield resident Joseph Duffy was arrested Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning at 9 a.m.

Joseph Duffy, 70, of Brookfield, is in custody after being arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of criminal abuse or neglect of an elderly person with a disability, which ultimately led to the death of his wife, Mary Jane, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Thursday.

Mary Jane began suffering from dementia in 2006 and continued to battle the disease until the time of her death in 2011. During that time, she was treated at numerous hospitals, nursing home facilities and at times, received treatment from at home care agencies.

Several complaints were made from the various agencies regarding Joseph Duffy’s behavior towards his wife and towards the nurses over the course of the five-year period. One company discontinued service after Duffy denied a nurse entry into their home due to her ethnicity.

Witnesses reported that Duffy was often verbally abusive towards his wife, and it was suspected that hospital visits for falls were actually caused by Duffy himself. At the time, however, abuse and/or neglect could not be proven.

In August of 2011, a hospice company came to the Duffy home for an assessment of Mary Jane for their home-care program. During the visit, company employees said Mary Jane was in bed with numerous bedsores covering her body. She was not being responsive verbally, and she appeared to be in grave condition, far beyond reasonable expectations for someone with her condition, they said. At that time, the Brookfield Police Department was contacted to investigate.

On August 23, 2011, the Illinois Department of Aging, assisted by the Brookfield Police Department responded to the Duffy home where they found Mary Jane home alone, suffering tremendously in the same conditions that were reported.

Police immediately contacted Joseph Duffy, who said he was out with a friend, but did not want her removed from the home because "he would lose his money."

At that time, Mary Jane, who was 61, weighed about 55 pounds. She was laying in the fetal position on a bed suffering from multiple ulcers covering her body. Some were as large as 10 x 10 centimeters. She had severe bruising, multiple fractured bones and missing teeth. She was in the late stages of dementia, was both blind and non-verbal and appeared to be in a permanent state of the position and condition in which she was found.

Authorities called an ambulance, and Mary Jane was taken from her home on 8800 block of 45th Street, in Brookfield, and transported to Holy Cross hospital for treatment. She was suffering from bronchopneumonia and had numerous external injuries covering her body.

Mary Jane ultimately succumbed to her conditions on September 1, 2011, seven days after being found in her home. At the time of her death, she weighed 56 pounds.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Police were asked to assist the Brookfield Police Department with the investigation. On December 22nd 2011, the Medical Examiner’s Office officially ruled Mary Jane Duffy’s death a homicide, as a result of severe neglect and elder abuse, by her husband and caretaker, Joseph Duffy.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking when cases like this one are brought to our attention,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. “How anyone could treat another human being, specifically a loved one, with such neglect and disregard for suffering is unfathomable to me.”

Duffy was charged with two counts of criminal abuse or neglect of an elderly person with a disability. Once charge was for failing to perform acts to maintain or preserve life and the other charge was for harassing, intimidating, or interfering with the personal liberty of a person.

Duffy was scheduled to appear in bond court Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at the Fourth District Bond Court in Maywood.

Brookfield is 7.57 miles from via Joliet Road.

*The above was a media announcement from the Cook County Sheriff's Department.

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