PHILADELPHIA – The live-in caregiver of an elderly East Frankford woman was being held on assault charges after the woman in her care was found starving, covered in filth, and suffering from festering, maggot-infested sores.
She later died in what city prosecutors Monday called one of the most horrific cases of elder abuse their office has ever seen, and prosecutors are now weighing a murder charge. Plane Paciunas, 89, died Nov. 15, about a week after she was found “barely alive” in her living room, wrapped in a quilt on a bed covered with trash bags, prosecutors said in an interview Monday. A medic and police officers responding to the scene at first believed she was dead. She had open wounds, one so severe that a bone showed. One person at the scene compared her appearance to that of a “mummy.”
Police say her caregiver, Jean Dombrowski, 48, told detectives she hadn’t been providing for her charge’s basic needs – and she knew that was why Paciunas’ health was failing. “The facts are truly sickening,” said Jennifer Selber, who heads the district attorney’s Homicide Unit. “This poor woman clearly suffered for a very long time under unspeakable conditions.”