Law enforcement was dispatched in late February to an Amery home regarding a 911 call reporting a death. Over two months later 55-year-old Jon Scott Staebler was taken into custody in connection with the death. Staebler is sitting in Polk County Jail after a cash bond was set for $25,000 and has been charged with Intentionally Subjecting An Individual At Risk To Abuse-Cause Death.
According to the criminal complaint, a deputy arrived at an Amery home February 20, after Staebler made a 911 call reporting that his 87-year-old mother had died at her residence. Allegedly Staebler reported his mother was cold to the touch and had died sometime in the night.
The deputy met with Staebler who stated his mother was on the bathroom floor in the upper level of the home. The deputy confirmed she did appear deceased. He observed she was wrapped in blankets and had pillows tucked under her head. The blankets appeared to be unwashed and streaked with what appeared to be feces. The deputy stated a small TV had been set up on the toilet.
Staebler allegedly said his mother had suffered from a stroke about six weeks prior and he was unable to lift his mother off the ground, so he tried to make her comfortable in the bathroom where she had been since the time of the stroke.
When asked why he didn’t call 911 at the time of her stroke or in the days following, Staebler said, “I don’t know, I guess I thought I could nurse her back to strength myself, in retrospect, I probably should’ve called someone.” When asked the last time he saw his mother alive, Staebler said, “Sometime last night.” He had tried to wake her that day and discovered she was deceased.
During an interview Staebler said he typically checked on his mother around 10 a.m. He said if she were still sleeping, he would continue to check on her throughout the morning to see if she was awake and ready to eat. He said she had been sleeping a lot lately, but was almost always awake by 1:00p.m, which was the time he had found her the day he called 911 to report her deceased.
Staebler said his mother was in an accident in October 2018. Since she was shook up from her accident, he said he had been at her house every day since. He said since then her health was limited but up until the latest health episode, she was able to feed herself and could go to the bathroom on her own. He believed the latest episode to be a mini stroke that took place approximately six weeks ago. He said she felt weakness in her legs and lay down on the bathroom floor. He said he did his best to make her comfortable by bringing her pillows, blankets and a television. Staebler said he thought it wouldn’t be long and she would be up and going again.
Staebler said since laying in the bathroom his mother would only eat a couple little meals a day. He said he would provide her containers so she could go to the bathroom. He said he would clean her up and change her clothes, but thought his mother just gave up over the last few weeks of her life.
He said he was the only person who knew of his mother’s condition and that she was stranded on the floor. He said during her time on the bathroom floor they never discussed getting her medical attention. He said he did though ask a man he had grown up with if he was coming to Amery at any point, and if he was, if he could help get his mother off the floor. He said the man never came.
When asked if his mother was getting any sores from lying on the floor 24/7, Staebler responded, “When I had to clean her up, I only cleaned the backside of her and would give her a washcloth so she could wash her front. It had been forever since she had bathed.”
When asked if anyone had ever called the house to check on his mother over the past two months, he said a few had. He said he had called one of the people back because they had made reference in a phone message that they intended to call the Sheriff’s Office for a welfare check. When he returned the call he told the concerned party his mother had a mini stroke and was sleeping a lot.
An investigator spoke with neighbors who said. In October 2018, Staebler’s mother told them during a phone call that her son had lost his job and was staying with her. Over the holiday season the neighbor attempted to bring cookies to the home and thought that both mother and son had moved back to his place in the Twin Cities, as there had been no lights or activity at the home. There were never vehicle tracks in the snow-covered driveway when the same neighbors plowed.
The neighbor called and spoke with Staebler Feb. 11 and he informed her they were still at the house in Amery but he indicated his mother was getting weaker from her mini stroke, didn’t want company and was shutting down.
A close friend of Staebler’s mother told investigators she called Staebler in early December 2018 as she was concerned that she had not seen his mother in a while, he told her his mother had a mini stroke and he was caring for her. Allegedly another concerned friend who had not seen his mother in a while was told by Staebler during an early February phone conversation that his mother could not always hear the ringer when people tried to call because of the distance of the chair she sat in in comparison to the phone. Other people interviewed said they never saw lights on when they would drive by.
A final autopsy summary includes the following information: The scene and autopsy findings constitute elder neglect. Due to cognitive and physical impairment, the deceased was dependent on her son to provide care. Over a period of weeks, he failed to provide adequate care or to seek someone else to provide adequate care. Due to this failure, she became septic and died. The manner of death is homicide.
A July 2019 jury trial has been set for Staebler.