Bed sores blanketed the elderly woman’s bony backside and her hips. Some had morphed into black, infected wounds. One ate through the skin covering her spine, exposing the bone.
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011 when she weighed 209 pounds, Judith Howe’s health had badly deteriorated, according to Metro Police. Bedridden, her weight had plummeted to 80 pounds.
She could not move; she could not speak, and she could not seek medical care, police said. That was the obligation of her daughter, who had the power of attorney, and control of her finances, too.
Instead, Sandy Howe brushed off multiple pleas from people, including a roommate, to get her mother to a doctor, police said. To mask the putrid smell produced by the sick woman’s wounds, Howe would put vapor rub under her own nose, police said.
Authorities on April 2, 2018, took custody of Judith Howe, 73, but it was too late. She died in hospice care two weeks later.
More than a year later, Sandy Howe, 50, was jailed Saturday on counts of first-degree murder and neglect, Clark County Detention Center logs show.
An arrest warrant affidavit released this week shines a light on a police investigation that landed the younger Howe in legal trouble. Investigators allege that giving away the responsibility of her mother’s care, would have also meant forfeiting her mother’s monthly checks of about $2,900.
The elder Howe’s funds should have been enough for basic needs, and a supplemental health insurance, police wrote in the report, but Sandy Howe instead canceled the woman’s $158-a-month supplemental insurance, and used the money on herself, taking it out at a local casino and ATMs, police said.
A roommate of the Howes, who was hired by the younger woman, to care for the elder in exchange for free rent, went to police to report alleged neglect.
About the time of the report, medics and police went to check on Judith Howe, but her more severe injuries were covered by a robe, according to the report. About a week later, authorities were at the house again, this time taking the elderly woman to the hospital, police said.
When reminded that it was her legal obligation to care for her mother, Sandy Howe said the responsibility meant, “That I have to make sure she’s well. That she’s OK. That she’s taken care of. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do. And I guess… I should pay more attention,” according to the warrant.
In interviews, Sandy Howe said that he family didn’t believe in traditional medicine, police said. But records indicate that her mother had visited doctors in the years leading up to her death.
She lay blame to her roommate, who told police that she tried everything to take care of the elderly woman, but that Sandy Howe would not allow it, police said.
This would include using over-the-counter medications for deteriorating bed sores instead of visiting a professional, police said. When others tried to intervene, Sandy Howe would shun them away, too, the roommate said.
“I just took care of her the best I could. You know, I took my orders from Howe and did what I was supposed to do. What Howe told me to do, you know?” the roommate told police.
Judith Howe had lost her ability to speak. The roommate theorized that her final weeks were agonizing, and that she could only moan in pain, according to the report.
Her “eyes seemed to communicate” that the aches were unbearable; that “she wanted to die,” the roommate told police.