A Westport woman will spend nine months in Grays Harbor County Jail after mistreating her 96-year-old mother leading up to the older woman’s death. The mother arrived at the hospital with a dozen severe bedsores, covered in feces, according to statements from hospital personnel.
Virginia L. Crowell, 66, was sentenced Monday in Grays Harbor Superior Court for second-degree criminal mistreatment of her mother, Virginia Crandall. Crandall moved in with Crowell after multiple stroke-like events in 2007, and relatives, including Crowell’s siblings and daughter, gave statements describing Crandall’s decline and increasing isolation.
“The defendant voluntarily took on this responsibility and then, essentially, shirked it,” Interim Prosecutor Gerald Fuller wrote in his sentencing statement. “It is quite apparent that Mrs. Crandall was receiving little if any care.”
Two of Crowell’s sisters wrote letters to the court asking for “as strict a sentence as possible.”
One noted that Crandall had been in good health before moving in with Crowell.
“Her last few weeks of life were spent in constant, agonizing pain and there was nothing that could be done to help her or reverse the damage that was done — even though we moved her to a facility that specialized in treating these sorts of wounds,” one sibling wrote.
On May 27, 2012, Crowell was admitted to Grays Harbor Community Hospital, and in the course of visiting her, a relative found no one was caring for Crandall, according to court records. The woman said she was told by another relative no one was caring for Crandall’s “wounds.”
Crandall was taken by ambulance to Community Hospital, where staff noted her serious condition.
“She was emaciated, covered in feces, did not appear to have been bathed,” a nurse wrote in a statement to police.
Crandall was eventually discharged to a skilled nursing facility for treatment for septicemia and died six weeks later.
According to the National Institutes of Health, septicemia is a serious infection also known as blood poisoning.
Prosecutors note the King County Medical Examiner couldn’t definitively state to what extent the lack of care for the ulcers played a role in Crandall’s death, but found the cause was “sepsis and pneumonia with numerous pressure ulcers,” charging documents state.
Relatives recall Crowell insisted she be granted power of attorney over Crandall, and handle Crandall’s Social Security checks. Bank records show Crandall’s account was used to make purchases from state liquor stores in five months of 2011 and 2012, and was overdrawn two months of 2012.
“The misappropriation of all of our mother’s Social Security income, which Virginia used for her own personal entertainment and none of which went to care for our mother, only adds to the inconsideration and thoughtlessness that was shown,” a sibling wrote.
In her statement to police, Crowell said her mother had not been in pain, and when she found Crandall had pressure sores, Crowell sought treatment.
“We did all we could knowingly do,” Crowell wrote.