Thursday, October 18, 2007

Missouri man charged in mother's death

Missouri man charged in mother's death


PATTON, Mo. (AP) -- A southeast Missouri man knew his elderly mother was dying and had stopped breathing but still went to bed without seeking help, authorities said.

Eric Lichte, 58, of Patton, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and elder abuse in the death of his mother, 83-year-old Wanda Lichte.

Authorities said Eric Lichte moved back to Missouri from Colorado about 10 years ago and moved in with his mother to help care for her.

He told police his mother's breathing was shallow in the early hours of Oct. 11. About 3:30 a.m., she stopped breathing. Still, he decided to go to bed without contacting police or emergency crews, according to a probable cause statement.

Lichte called a funeral home about six hours later to report his mother's death.

"The fact he would go to sleep at that point rather than calling family members or calling for medical assistance at any time that night is something we've noted as a concern," Bollinger County prosecutor Stephen Gray said.

Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Sarakas said authorities who went to the home found the deceased woman lying on her bed with "arms folded as if she was in a casket for viewing, and she was fully dressed in neat clothing. Her hair appeared to be neatly combed." A plastic cover had been placed on the bed in place of sheets.

An autopsy showed Wanda Lichte died of neglect -- she was malnourished and dehydrated. She also had large bedsores, authorities said.

Eric Lichte told police his mother had diabetes and Alzheimer's disease but had asked that he not notify doctors. He said he was "taking care of her the best he knew how," the probable cause statement said.

"There's just not a good reason to let a family member suffer when there's professional help available," Gray said.

Lichte's attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.


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