Neighbors react to alleged murder of elderly man
Rachel and Carl Bruce were arraigned in 81st District Court on Friday for the alleged murder and abuse of Rachel's father, 72-year-old Herman Ritchey Jr..
Ritchey was pronounced dead at his home on October 24, 2012. The Oscoda County Sheriff's Department and medical examiners found Ritchey in a secluded bedroom malnourished and with large open sores and scabs on his body, according to the Oscoda County Prosecutor.
The Prosecutor says he was living under the care of his daughter (Rachel) and her husband (Carl) on McNeely Drive in Clinton Township.
"The medical examiner's report was completed and after review of that report it was identified that the victim had been isolated for quite some time prior to his death and at the time of his death, that he remained in soiled garments, that he had open sores, and that he had not been administered the proper medications that he was prescribed." said Prosecutor, Casandra Morse-Bills.
According to the prosecutor, the couple was originally charged in early 2013 with 4th Degree Vulnerable Adult Abuse. Those charges were dismissed after the prosecutor's office decided to take a closer look at the details in the case.
Carl Bruce and Rachel Bruce are now each facing three felony charges: homicide-felony murder, first-degree vulnerable adult abuse and second-degree vulnerable adult abuse.
If convicted of murder, Carl and Rachel could be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Both suspects were denied bond because of the severity and seriousness of the charges. They will be back in court on August 6th.
Current owners of the home where the alleged abuse took place say that the home was filled with trash on the inside and out when they moved in in February 2013. They say they also found a door with a lock on the outside of Ritchey's alleged isolated room, and that the bedroom windows had been nailed shut.
Neighbors reported smelling the trash from their homes.
"He was secluded from the rest of the home," said Morse-Bills. "He had very little personal belongings in the room with him."
One neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous said that Ritchey used to be a hard worker and volunteer at a local food pantry, but that he became ill a couple of years before he died.
"He definitely needed help," said Thomas Cook, another neighbor on McNeely Drive.
Cook says he never knew Rachel or Carl, and that he had only spoken to Ritchey a couple of times.
"He was very senile and would come up with all kinds of off the wall stuff," said Cook.
The prosecutor says that further investigation revealed that Ritchey had been receiving about $3,000 a month for his veteran and social security benefits but that financial records indicated that he had not received any outside medical care in a long time.
"If there was some care received elsewhere that we are not aware of, that is a possibility," said Morse-Bills. "That is a possibility. But the records that we were able to obtain reflect that March of 2011 was the last time that he was seen and assessed by a medical professional."
Law enforcement also discovered that some of Ritchey's prescription medications had not been re-filled in months and some of the prescription bottles found at the scene had been recently emptied and washed out prior to law enforcement arriving at the scene.
The Medical Examiner Investigation Report identified Ritchey's immediate cause of death as malnutrition due to dementia and neglect.
"That's despicable as hell," said Cook. "There's nothing that I hate worse than people who abuse the senile or children. It's just unbelievable."