NORRISTOWN — A 71-year-old Abington man faces homicide-related charges after he allegedly neglected his younger brother who had Down syndrome and who died of an untreated medical condition.
Harry A. Gramlich, of the 200 block of Edge Hill Road in the Glenside section of Abington, was arraigned before District Court Judge James P. Gallagher on charges of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and neglect of care of dependent person in connection with alleged incidents that occurred in October 2020.
Gramlich was released on $100,000 unsecured bail to await his April 28 preliminary hearing on the charges before District Court Judge Juanita A. Price.
The investigation began about 2:27 p.m. Oct. 18, 2020, when Abington police responded to Gramlich’s residence for a report of a deceased person. Gramlich informed officers that his brother, Timothy, 52, was deceased in a second-floor bedroom, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective John Wittenberger and Abington Detective Sgt. Drew Kent.
Police found the naked body of Timothy Gramlich wrapped in an article of clothing on a bare, soiled mattress, according to court papers.
“The mattress and floor of the bedroom appeared stained with bodily fluids and feces. The odor of urine and feces was profound. The body of Timothy Gramlich was unclean and appeared emaciated,” Wittenberger and Kent alleged in the arrest affidavit.
In another front bedroom that appeared to be used for storage, police found “a severely soiled mattress with a ripped, soiled sheet” and “a soiled, wet pillow,” detectives said.
Harry Gramlich told police that his brother had Down syndrome and that he last saw his brother alive about 8 p.m. on Oct. 17 when he took him food, according to court papers.
A subsequent autopsy determined Timothy Gramlich died of Urosepsis, which is caused by a urinary tract infection, and the manner of death was ruled undetermined.
“The examination suggested Timothy Gramlich had been neglected and had he undergone routine medical evaluations and care, his death from urosepsis could have been prevented,” detectives alleged.
A forensic pathologist said other indicators of neglect were Timothy’s weight of 76 pounds, “fixed, flexion contractures of hips and knees with no pathological basis for them,” pressure induced ulcerations of his lower extremities and the “poor, soiled conditions Harry Gramlich exposed him to,” according to the arrest affidavit.
“These unsanitary conditions and neglect of Timothy Gramlich, a care-dependent person, demonstrated Harry Gramlich’s willful and wanton disregard of an ongoing, unjustified risk that contributed to and resulted in Timothy Gramlich’s death,” Wittenberger and Kent wrote in the arrest affidavit.
The victim resided in the single-family residence with Harry Gramlich and a 58-year-old sister, Elizabeth Gramlich, according to court documents. Harry and Elizabeth resided on the first floor of the residence.
“Harry Gramlich identified himself as Timothy’s sole caretaker,” Wittenberger and Kent alleged.
Harry Gramlich allegedly told detectives he fed his brother twice a day and with each meal gave him two bottles of water, adding he typically fed Timothy peanut butter sandwiches and oatmeal and other meals that were prepared in a crock pot and that his brother was eating meals without any assistance.
“Gramlich described his brother as bedridden for the past six months. Gramlich admitted that Timothy had been non-verbal for many years. Gramlich explained Timothy had not received any medical care in years,” Wittenberger and Kent alleged.
Harry Gramlich allegedly told detectives that prior to police arriving at the home he had placed the bedding to the mattress in trash bags because they were soiled with urine and feces and that he felt embarrassed. Harry Gramlich also stated he scraped Timothy’s bedroom floor in an attempt to remove feces, according to the criminal complaint.
When asked about the severely soiled mattress found in the front bedroom, Harry Gramlich allegedly identified it as the mattress Timothy had been using until a week before his death.
When detectives interviewed Elizabeth Gramlich, she told them she had not seen Timothy for many years, “to the extent that she could not recall the last time she saw him inside the residence,” according to court documents.
“Elizabeth explained that Harry Gramlich was Timothy’s only caretaker although she resided in the same, shared residence,” Wittenberger and Kent alleged. “Elizabeth stated Timothy regressed to his second story bedroom in the 1990s after their mother died and it was there that he remained. Elizabeth stated Timothy’s bedroom door was always closed when she would enter the second floor.”
A fourth sibling, a 63-year-old brother who did not live in the home, told detectives he had not seen Timothy since 2003 because Timothy “withdrew and didn’t leave his room unless he was going to use the bathroom,” according to court papers.
A fifth sibling , a 56-year-old brother, told detectives he moved from the residence in 2000 and at that time Timothy was able to clean, feed and provide basic care for himself. That sibling told detectives he last saw Timothy in August 2020, according to court papers.
Court documents indicate some of the siblings told detectives that about $3,500 from Timothy’s Social Security fund were used to pay for Timothy’s groceries each year and that $3,000 was used to pay for Timothy’s medical insurance.