Friday, April 8, 2011
MANASSAS, Va. --
A Prince William County grand jury this week indicted a 62-year-old man in connection with the starvation death of his disabled wife.
Barry Karsh, of 123 Evans St. in Manassas Park, is charged with the abuse and neglect of an incapacitated adult in the Aug. 11, 2010 death of his wife, 59-year-old Jennie Karsh, said Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert.
Ebert said Jennie Karsh suffered from schizophrenia and was unable to take care of herself. Barry Karsh did not live with his wife, but “continued to be responsible for her care and continued to provide support for her.”
On Aug. 11, Barry Karsh found his wife dead at her home in the 9500 block of Park Street in Manassas, Ebert said. An autopsy showed she died of dehydration and malnutrition.
Karsh was arrested this week and released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.
“It’s an unusual charge and an unusual situation,” Ebert said. “The case is still under investigation.”
In a search warrant filed in Prince William Circuit Court in August, Manassas police said they were called to Jennie Karsh’s Park Street house that day and found Karsh unresponsive. Fire and rescue workers pronounced her dead at the scene.
Jennie Karsh, who appeared to weigh less than 90 pounds, was found “lying in a bed in the upstairs in very poor condition,” and “appeared as though she had not been kept clean or taken care of physically,” the search warrant affidavit states.
Family members said she “suffered from mental illness and was taking medication for it,” the court documents state.
Police found “little to no food inside the residence,” the search warrant states. A refrigerator on the main level of the house was unplugged and empty and a small refrigerator upstairs “contained water, a soda and other miscellaneous items,” the search warrant states.
In the court documents, police said that Barry Karsh had not lived with his wife for several months, but was still her primary caretaker and drove to her house several times a day “to take care of his wife and to buy her groceries and prescriptions.”
Karsh told police that he went to his wife’s house at about 6 a.m. that day and “noticed that his wife’s lips were blue and flaky” and then “he touched the victim’s lips and she made a moaning sound.” Karsh then went to the Comcast Building on Center Street, told an officer about his wife and was referred to Social Services, the court documents state.
The social services department did not open until 8:30 a.m., so Karsh went to his house on Evans Street and called Social Services at 8:30, the affidavit states. When he called, a social services employee told Karsh to call 911 and go back to his wife’s house, according to court documents.
He did so, and when rescue workers arrived, Jennie Karsh was dead, the court documents state.
According to the affidavit, Barry Karsh had previously contacted social services to ask “what he needed to do to get his wife committed” and a social worker gave him instructions on how to get guardianship over his wife.
Karsh told police that he did not take those steps because “his daughter begged him not to.”
According to the affidavit, Karsh’s daughter said that was not true and that she had offered to pay for the attorney and had done more research about guardianship, but “Barry Karsh just did not follow through with it.”
According to the search warrant, on the morning of Jennie Karsh’s death, Barry Karsh sent his daughter an email saying “she should go over and check on her mother because something seems like it is wrong.”
According to court records, police seized pictures, a video tape and a handwritten note from the Park Street house and check registers and other documents from the Evans Street house.
Karsh is set to stand trial beginning Oct. 24.
Karsh is charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
An obituary that ran in the Loudoun Times-Mirror after Jennie Karsh's death said she "was a fabulous homemaker."
"She was incredibly generous, thoughtful, sympathetic, nurturing, understanding, empathetic, loving, intelligent and extremely likeable," the obituary states.
"She was a beautiful person inside and out and will be missed so very very much."