A woman accused of killing her elderly mother by neglecting her, will stay in jail as she awaits her trial.
Janice Harmes, had nothing to say this morning when she arrived for her preliminary hearing. She faces charges of third degree murder and neglect in the death of her 88-year-old mother, Janet Bastendorf.
During Thursday's hearing, police described how Bastendorf, who could not walk, was left to sit in a growing pool of her own feces and urine for 10 days without food or a change of diaper. The autopsy said she died of an infection from sitting in her own excrement without moving.
According to the prosecution, no one knew this was happening possibly because Harmes took her mom’s cell phone. In court, the defense hinted that Bastendorf wanted to die by refusing food, water and even medical care.
“The conditions were deplorable. Not only the conditions in which she lived, but also the conditions in which she died.” Said Prosecutor Megan King.
King says cases like this one, involving elder abuse, are becoming more common as the population ages. With social security providing a source of income to the elderly combined with existing savings, they become targets. “We have opportunistic types of crimes especially in the financial exploitation kind of cases. But unfortunately we also have cases as severe as this with the neglect."
Harmes is still in the Lancaster County Prison unable to post bail. She should be formally arraigned in the County Courthouse sometime in March.