Guilty plea set in bedbug death of 96-year-old Hanover-area woman

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
  • Mary Stoner, 96, died of complications from sepsis, brought on by bed bug bites, officials said.

A 73-year-old Hanover-area resident accused of neglecting the care of an elderly woman who died is expected to plead guilty in December. The patient died of complications from bedbug bites, officials said.

Deborah Butler, of the 2000 block of Baltimore Pike in West Manheim Township, appeared in York County Court on Wednesday, Oct. 11, for a scheduled pretrial conference.

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

During that hearing, chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker requested a date be set for Butler to plead guilty.

"We have reached a resolution," Barker said in court.

Presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness set the guilty-plea hearing for 3 p.m. Dec. 4.

Barker said he expects the hearing to take about 45 minutes and will include members of the elderly woman's family giving victim-impact statements in court.

The background: Butler remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail, charged with the first-degree felony of neglecting the care of a dependent person and the first-degree misdemeanor of involuntary manslaughter.

Mary Stoner, 96, died of complications from sepsis following a bedbug infestation, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

Deborah Butler

Butler, also known as Deborah Luckenbaugh, cared for Stoner for more than a decade, according to court documents.

After Butler closed Luckenbaugh Personal Care Home several years ago, she moved Stoner and another care-dependent patient across the street to her home to continue caring for them, documents state.

Hospital called police: Stoner, who was unable to speak because of a medical condition, was taken to York Hospital on Feb. 6, 2016, after two of her family members became concerned about a severe skin rash that covered more than half of her body, documents state.

Doctors later determined Stoner had multiple open sores and cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, and hospital staff notified West Manheim Township Police 


Stoner was released from the hospital Feb. 12, 2016, but readmitted two days later after contracting pneumonia, documents state.

Stoner died at York Hospital on Feb. 22, 2016.

Police who searched Butler's home found bedbugs "scurrying" along the bedding of a then-88-year-old woman in Butler's care, documents state.

They also found bedbugs crawling on Butler's adopted sister, then 48, who has an intellectual disability, according to documents.

An exterminator told officers the bedbugs had been in the home for at least six months, according to court documents.

'Appropriate' agreement: Barker said he can't yet discuss details about the proposed plea agreement, including what charges Butler is expected to plead to and what her proposed punishment is.

"What we're discussing is fair and appropriate, considering the circumstances," he said.

Barker said his office has had extensive discussions with Stoner's family and said they support the proposed plea agreement.

Defense attorney John Mooney, who represents Butler, declined comment after the hearing.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.