HARTSDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — He seemed as shocked as anyone when his mother was found dead in their Westchester County home, but police said it was all an act.
And now a Hartsdale man is accused of neglecting her until she died, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.
James Austin, 45, a baggage handler at Westchester County Airport, was said to be living in a “house of horrors.” He now faces manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges after his mother’s body was found this summer crawling with maggots.
Austin lived with his mother, 71-year-old Ida Austin, a former health care worker, who inherited their Hartsdale home from a man she used to care for.
Slattery spoke with James Austin right after he told police he found his mother dead.
“I found my mother’s body … sitting on a couch. It’s the worst thing anybody can have. You only have one,” he said back on July 5.
What Austin didn’t say was that his mother, who had been dead for only hours when police arrived, had severe bed sores, according to the indictment, and was lying in piles of feces and urine and insects.
Police sources said an entomologist had to examine evidence because, according to Assistant District Attorney Lana Hochheiser, “Her own flesh was being eaten by maggots and other insects. This defendant was aware of the infestation because he’d placed two cans of Raid about the body.”
An aunt of the defendant would say nothing of the charges, nor would Austin’s attorney. And while the living conditions in the house were described as grotesque, one next-door neighbor said he hadn’t seen Ida Austin for years, and used to inquire about her with the son.
“We asked how’s she doing? ‘Fine, watching TV,’” Richard Hirsch said, adding when asked if he ever saw her, “No.”
Austin’s mother was said to be emaciated, starved and dehydrated. The defense said she didn’t want to go into a nursing home.
For the man who said “Losing your mother is the worst thing anyone can have,” the indictment charges he did nothing to keep her alive.
Austin’s bail was set at $200,000. His lawyer said he has no money and won’t be able to post it.
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