October 1, 2014

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Man charged after mother is found with sores, bruises, broken bones

Chelsea Miller and Rona Proudfoot, The Chronicle Telegram

LORAIN — A man accused of abusing his mother appeared in court today after police reported finding his 70-year-old mother covered in urine and feces with several broken bones.

Steven Whitman, 51, is charged with domestic violence, patient abuse and gross neglect and failure to provide for a functionally impaired person. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Lorain Municipal Court.

Police arrested Whitman on Monday when they were called to his home on Delaware Avenue that he shares with his mother, Janet Whitman. A neighbor reported hearing Whitman screaming and possibly assaulting his mother around 5:30 p.m.

Whitman met officers in the driveway and told them he was only yelling at her because she had just spilled her dinner, according to a police report.

Officers asked to go inside the home to speak with Janet and upon entering were overcome with the stench of garbage, human waste and spoiled food.

“In 20-plus years as a Lorain police officer, I can’t remember smelling an odor that bad,” Officer William Lachner wrote in his report.

They found Janet in a recliner covered in urine and feces with food spilled all over her, the report said.

Whitman told police his mother had just recently urinated herself, but, according to the report, “It was obvious she had been in her own waste for multiple days or longer without care.”

The report noted that Janet is functionally impaired and wasn’t able to communicate with officers very well.

LifeCare arrived and cut Janet’s shirt off her, and it was revealed she had an obvious broken left arm with the bone nearly protruding from the skin. She had other bruises on her face, neck and cheek, the report said.

Officers estimated she weighed about 70 pounds.

Janet was taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center in Lorain, where a doctor said she also had a broken hip and open sores, swelling and bed sores all over her body. She was transferred to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where she was upgraded to fair condition Wednesday.

Whitman was taken to the Lorain City Jail. His bond was set at $100,000 in addition to a $29,000 bond Lorain Municipal Court Judge Thomas Elwell set in place because Whitman had failed to pay fines from previous court cases.

According to Lorain Municipal Court records, Whitman has several traffic-related convictions, including no driver’s license and assured clear distance charges.

According to a written statement from the neighbor, he frequently heard shouting coming from Whitman’s home and heard Whitman screaming things like “I wish you were dead already!” “I’m going to shove my (expletive) down your throat!” “I don’t give a (expletive) about you!” and “If anyone else were taking care of you, you would be dead!”

Whitman is scheduled to appear in court again at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 29 for the charges, as well as a previous contempt of court charge.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com and Rona Proudfoot at 329-7124 or rproudfoot@chroniclet.com.