Brookfield man charged with neglect in wife's death

July 12, 2012 3:27:05 PM PDT
A suburban Brookfield man is charged with abuse and neglect in connection with the death of his wife last year.

There are questions being raised about how it happened even as caregivers tried to help.

It's still unclear why the neglect and abuse Mary Jane Duffy allegedly suffered at the hands of her husband went unaddressed, even after investigators say several caregivers complained to their supervisors, and even the office of the inspector general -- but not police.

The Cook County Sheriff's Department, which wasn't contacted until after the woman died, is looking into the matter.

Mary Jane Duffy was found starved, blind and in a fetal position. Her body was covered with 4-inch wide bedsores and bruises, and she had fractured bones.

Weighing just 56 pounds, the frail 4'11" woman died a week later after authorities discovered her alone at the home she shared with her husband, who is now charged in connection with Mary Jane's 2011 death.

Joseph Duffy was arrested Wednesday and, almost a year after his wife's death, charged with two counts of criminal abuse or neglect of a person with a disability. He is accused of collecting and spending his wife's disability and Social Security checks while not caring for the bedridden woman, often leaving her to sleep on a military cot in her own filth.

According to prosecutors, the neglect began as early as 2005 in the Brookfield condo the couple shared, after Mary Jane began to suffer dementia.

The condition eventually forced Mary Jane to retire. That's when she began receiving disability checks from her former employer as well as Social Security totaling $3,000 a month.

Starting in 2007, the Illinois Department of Human Services began providing caregivers for the woman. DHS says as primary caregiver Duffy refused to take proper care of his wife. Nurses tell authorities he was verbally abusive, telling his wife, "Why don't you do everyone a favor and die?"

"We could all hear very loud yelling. This was several times we used to hear this," said neighbor Rolando Pena.

As the victim's condition worsened, Joseph Duffy was eventually convinced to contact a hospice to care for his wife.

The hospice worker reported Mary Jane's condition to police. She was taken to the hospital where she later died.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says, as the victim was being taken from the home, Joseph Duffy remarked to one of the officers, "Great, now I am going to lose her social security and pension check."

ABC7's request for comment from the Illinois Department of Human Services was unsuccessful.

If convicted, Duffy could spend up to seven years in prison. He is due back in court later this month.

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