Schenectady County

Woman charged in starving death of elderly mother

A 47-year-old Albany woman was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on a manslaughter charge for allege

A 47-year-old Albany woman was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on a manslaughter charge for allegedly failing to feed her elderly mother, who starved to death in January in the home they shared.

“It looked like the mother was in a concentration camp. She had no fat on her body, no muscle. Her organs had shut down,” said Homicide and Special Victims Bureau Chief Dave Rossi, who is handling the prosecution of the case for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

Carol Adams was charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and one count of first-degree endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person in connection with the death of her 78-year-old mother, Beth Adams.

If convicted, she faces 15 years in prison.

Over the course of several weeks, authorities said, Adams tried to feed her mother bits of chocolate doughnuts, but it was not enough to sustain her. She died Jan. 16 at the home they shared at 18 Crestwood Court.

Adams agreed to provide care to her mother and then failed to adequately do so, resulting in profound malnutrition, according to the indictment.

Adams was arrested Thursday after an Albany County grand jury indicted her.

She was arraigned in Albany County Court and sent to the Albany County Jail with no bail set.

Rossi said Adams showed little emotion or remorse when she was arraigned.

The investigation began after an EMS call came in to the Albany Fire Department on Jan. 16. When paramedics arrived, they found Beth Adams in her bed, unresponsive and with no pulse. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy conducted the next day determined she had died of malnutrition. The Children & Family Services Unit of the Albany Police Department began an investigation, focusing on Carol Adams, who was responsible for her mother’s care.

According to relatives, Carol Adams had been living with her mother for an extended period — it’s not clear exactly how long — and was supposed to care for her, but over time failed to provide her mother with the minimal amount of nutrition needed to survive. No one else lived in the residence during this time, according to police.

A three-month investigation provided enough evidence, based on interviews and medical evidence, to present to a grand jury and obtain the indictment, according to police.

The investigation was conducted by the Albany Police Department and Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

Adams has no other criminal record, according to Detective James Miller, spokesman for the Albany Department of Public Safety. He also said Thursday that he was not aware of her having any mental health issues.

The two women were living on Beth Adams’ Social Security benefits. There were financial strains, which appears to be one reason Carol Adams may have failed to provide adequate food for her mother, said Miller.

Neighbors told investigators that Beth Adams had worked until she was about 75 years old, but they hadn’t seen her leaving the house in the last several months.

Rossi said it was unclear if Beth Adams ever sought help. No written notes were found at the home, but she might have been too weak to write.

He said the manslaughter charge against Carol Adams is based on the belief she was aware of what she was doing.

“It is tragic, we should be taking care of the seniors and we will prosecute those who don’t,” said Rossi.

Rossi said it is too early to say if the case will go to trial. It was unclear later Thursday if Adams even has an attorney yet.

“It never should reach this level, regardless of what the issues are facing a family,” said Miller. “There are resources that can provide assistance. It’s just unfortunate that situations like this are what bring it to light that these resources are available.”

District Attorney P. David Soares said the tragic death could have easily been avoided with just one phone call. “Sadly, this case exemplifies a trend that is all too common. Elder abuse is a crime, and we must do more to protect some of our society’s most vulnerable citizens,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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