HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A central Pennsylvania married couple have been charged with homicide in the starvation death of their 9-year-old son, whose decomposing body was found when police were called to their Harrisburg home two months ago.
Police said in documents charging Kimberly and Jarrod Tutko Sr. on Monday for the death of Jarrod Tutko Jr. that the 17-pound child had been living in a bare room smeared with a thick layer of feces, and had suffered from several painful conditions.
The bedroom door was locked from the outside and he slept on the bare floor, police said.
“The inside door knob and light switch were both covered in smeared feces,” wrote Harrisburg Detective Rodney Shoeman. “The light in the room was found to be inoperable. Located in the middle of the floor was a feces covered stuffed rabbit and blanket. Flies swarmed throughout the room.”
An autopsy concluded that the child, who had a genetic disorder with autism-like symptoms, weighed less than 17 pounds and died of malnutrition and neglect. A 10-year-old girl who was close to death was also found in the home and needed urgent medical attention, police said.
“Obviously the malnutrition was horrific,” Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said Tuesday. “The child had significant dental issues that a dentist told us would have been incredibly painful. That’s something that indicates he had no dental care whatsoever.”
Marsico, who was at the scene when the boy’s decomposing body was found in a second-floor bathroom on Aug. 1, called it one of the most horrible crime scenes he has observed. He said the bolted-down television in his third-floor bedroom was tuned to the Disney channel.
“I can only imagine what it was like on a hot summer day in that room,” Marsico said Tuesday. “It was terrible. And this was a kid with special needs that needed extra care.”
Marscio said a standard review is done when a child dies, but in this case it is being expanded and child welfare authorities are examining how they handled Jarrod Jr.’s care. The couple’s five other children who lived in the home have been placed in foster care, Marsico said.
“We definitely know the parents were not compliant or always receptive to dealings with Children and Youth, the agencies in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” where the couple formerly lived, he said.
The arrest affidavit said police found “a pattern of substantiated and alleged neglect” of their children by the parents.
The Tutkos moved to New Jersey to avoid a 2002 court hearing in Schuylkill County that may have resulted in losing custody. At the time of Jarrod Tutko Jr.’s October 2004 birth in New Jersey, the hospital was told to put a hold on releasing him because of an ongoing child welfare investigation involving a sister.
Jarrod Jr. spent his early years moving between foster care and his parent’s custody. He was returned to them in 2006, after they had moved to Harrisburg, Shoeman wrote. The family was reported to Pennsylvania’s ChildLine system last year and authorities investigated.
Kimberly Tutko told police the couple had been collecting $710 per month from the state in disability payments apiece for Jarrod Jr., two siblings and Jarrod Sr. Neither parent had a job.
Both Kimberly A. Tutko, 39, and Jarret N. Tutko Sr., 38, remained in the Dauphin County Prison without bail on Tuesday morning. Court records do not indicate whether they are represented by attorneys. She is charged with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of children; he faces the same charges, along with concealing the death of a child and abuse of a corpse. A hearing is scheduled for next month.