A 67-year-old woman from Licking is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of her mother following a multi-agency investigation that alleges extreme neglect. Family members say the suspect is mentally ill and are shocked that a state agency didn’t intervene before the death.

Patricia Davis is charged after the May 22, 2019, death of her mother, Kathleen C. Davis, 91, who was immobilized for weeks on a floor at her Highway N residence east of the Big Piney River. According to a report, a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services investigator, following up on calls reporting the neglect, called for an ambulance to take her to a hospital.

The discovery triggered an investigation by Texas County Coroner Marie Lasater and Texas County Chief Deputy Rowdy Douglas. According to the July 15 report, the woman, a former school teacher and Texas County Family Services worker in Houston for about 20 years, was found covered in urine, feces, maggots and dirt. The coroner found serious sores to the elderly woman’s right side.  

Davis, an only child and a retired educator at Plato and Houston who lived with her mother, described herself as the mother’s caregiver for about four years and reported she had fallen about two months before the state investigator found her. Davis reported to the deputy she had written two cousins seeking help in the week before the discovery. According to a report, that timetable meant the mother had been on the floor for about five weeks before the daughter sought help and long after the family sought the state’s help.

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Patricia Davis, in a law enforcement interview, said once her mother fell to the floor, she picked up her mother once and placed her in a chair. She returned later to find her on the floor again. Authorities said the mother was found about four feet from a bed.

Davis explained she didn’t believe she neglected her mother’s health needs: She would fix her mother food and place it on the floor next to her mother.

“I asked Patricia how she thought her mother could get up to use the restroom when she knew she couldn’t get up on her own with no assistance. Patricia then told me she would place a bowl of water in the floor next to her mother so her mother could wash herself,” Douglas wrote.

A death certificate shows the mother had multiple pressure ulcers, severe malnutrition and dehydration, had pulmonary emboli due to prolonged immobility and untreated pneumonia.

Texas County Assistant Prosecutor Jason MacPherson also filed charges of second-degree assault, a felony, and abuse of an elderly disabled or venerable person, a misdemeanor. She is held on $500,000 bond after her arrest late Thursday afternoon.

Former co-workers of the victim described her as a dedicated state employee.

“She was one of the sweetest people you could ever be around,” said one.

For family members, the death marked a tragic event that they say could have been avoided. They were aware that a criminal inquiry was triggered by the death, but they didn’t know charges might be filed.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”<p>Family says the death of the family matriarch and the charging of the daughter followed a struggle to gain help for both.</p>” id=”b2450ee1-eb60-44df-b099-1d63716ba51b” style-type=”quote” title=”A family grieves” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

They said they tried to get help for Patricia and Kathleen Davis: A relative designated by the family placed a hotline call to the Missouri Division of Aging months before the death.

Desperate because of a lack of action, a great-niece, Kelly Suter followed up, she said, with the Missouri attorney general’s office in Springfield and Jefferson City. The signs of trouble continued, they said. Strange, rambling letters devoid of reality arrived from Patricia Davis. The signs of trouble were everywhere, they said. The interior of the home was a mess and smelled bad. The telephone inside the house was disconnected as long as two years ago. A large-scale financial fraud was uncovered. Relatives wondered if a mental evaluation for the mother and daughter might offer hope for making changes.

A niece who asked not to be named, said about six weeks before the death, she went to the home “to be firm with Patricia” about her heightened concerns. After about 20 minutes, Patricia asked her to leave.

By the time the last letters from Patricia arrived finally seeking help, Kathleen was gone within days. She had been declared dead at Texas County Memorial Hospital, and the family would gather a few days later to say goodbye at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on West Highway 32.

Over the weekend, some met again to discuss the family drama. Should they bond Patricia out, hire an attorney and seek answers about the death and the criminal case?

Patricia Davis was arraigned on Monday and has a public defender. On Tuesday, MacPherson moved to increase the assault charge to first degree. The Missouri Department of Health and Social Services in Jefferson City has not yet responded for comment.

Family says the death of the family matriarch and the charging of the daughter followed a struggle to gain help for both.

Kathleen Davis, a retired state case worker, was a victim of weeks of neglect by her daughter, it is alleged. 

PDF: Amended charged filed Tuesday, Oct. 22

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