Family Starves 32-Year-Old Man With Down Syndrome to Death

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 24, 2013   |   3:11PM   |   Scranton, PA

Charges have been filed in connection with the murder of a 32-year-old man with Down syndrome — starved to death by his own family.

Robert Gensiak’s own family starved him to the point that his body was wasting away at a mere 69 pounds. His sisters prevented him from receiving appropriate medical care even when his body was covered with open sores and wounds from their confining him to his bed for a period of two years.

But now, police have filed murder charges against his mother, Susan Gensiak, and sisters Joan and Rebekah.

From a report in the Scranton newspaper:

“This is the worst case of neglect I’ve seen the last 26 years,” said Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola at a press conference Wednesday. “This family, the mother and two sisters, basically let this young man rot to death.”

Mr. Gensiak had been weakening and could not walk without assistance by the time the family called an ambulance on March 19 at the urging of his doctor, Paul Remick, D.O., whom they had not taken Mr. Gensiak to visit for two years. Mr. Gensiak was taken to Regional Hospital where doctors said he had severe psoriasis associated with hypothermia. His body temperature was only 92 degrees.

He died March 20, and weighed just 69 pounds, police said.

An autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Gary W. Ross, M.D., revealed an extreme case of neglect. Autopsy photos show his skin was a sickly yellow with cracked areas that had oozed with blood and fluid. Open sores pockmarked his body, so extreme in spots that his bone was visible. As a matter of taste, The Times-Tribune is not publishing the photos.

The remaining teeth he had were loose and ready to fall out. Lice covered his head. Dr. Ross found no food or significant fluid in his stomach.

“It’s amazing to me that anyone could allow someone to go through this type of pain and torture,” Mr. Jarbola said.

His official cause of death was sepsis, due to the breakdown of his skin, plagued by a widespread infestation of Norwegian scabies. His open sores and malnutrition also contributed to his death, Dr. Ross said.

Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland ruled the manner of death as homicide due to neglect.

This case comes after an autistic teenager was murdered by his mother to “end his suffering.”