Caretaker charged in death of woman from bed bug bites
A 72-year-old Hanover woman is facing charges after an elderly woman died from apparent bed bug bites contracted while under her care.
Deborah Butler, of 2025 Baltimore Pike, was charged Tuesday with one felony count of neglect and one misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter in the February 2016 death of a 96-year-old woman in her care, according to charging documents.
Butler had cared for the victim for more than a decade, according to documents. After she closed down the Luckenbaugh Personal Care Home several years ago, Butler moved two remaining care-dependent patients to her home across the street to continue care, documents state.
The victim was taken to York Hospital on Feb. 6, 2016, after her daughter and granddaughter became concerned by a severe skin rash that covered at least 50 percent of the victim’s body, documents state.
Doctors at the hospital reported the victim had multiple skin sores and cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, according to court documents. A nurse took photographs of the victim, who could not speak because of her medical condition, and the hospital contacted West Manheim Township Police, documents state.
Search: Police went to the Baltimore Pike home on Feb. 7, 2016, to check on an 88-year-old woman who also was under Butler’s care. During the visit, a West Manheim Township police officer “observed several bed bugs scurrying along her bed covers and the pillow beneath her head,” according to court documents.
In another room, the officer found the victim’s mattress propped against the wall, a vacuum and cleaning supplies and a pillow cover with blood on it, documents state.
In a third room, the officer saw bed bugs crawling on Butler’s adopted sister, then 48, who is intellectually developmentally disabled, according to court documents.
Butler told police she was cleaning the victim’s room because her family was taking her home for two weeks, documents state.
Butler said she last took the victim to see a doctor in January 2016 but failed to mention the bed-bug infestation during the medical evaluation, documents state.
Butler said she did not notice the victim’s worsening condition for the two weeks between the doctor’s appointment and the victim’s family coming to take her home, according to court documents.
“Evidence later indicated that the victim’s condition would have been clearly visible and obvious that serious medical attention was required,” the officer wrote in the charging documents. “Despite this, (Butler) sought no additional medical care for the victim, depriving her of necessary pain relief and preventative health care.”
Victim re-admitted: The victim was released from the hospital Feb. 12, 2016, but was readmitted two days later after contracting pneumonia, documents state.
The victim died at York Hospital on Feb. 22, 2016, according to court documents.
West Manheim Township Police and the York County Forensic Team searched Butler’s home 10 days later and found bed bugs in various stages of the life cycle as well as a receipt from a professional exterminator dated Feb. 15, 2016, — a day after the victim was readmitted to the hospital, documents state.
The exterminator told police the bed bugs had been present in the home for at least 6 months, according to court documents.
An autopsy conducted in April 2016 concluded the victim died from complications of sepsis following bed-bug infestation, according to court documents.
Butler remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 9.