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St. Paul man accused of neglecting elderly aunt found in filthy conditions

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE
  • Star Tribune
  • February 29, 2012 - 9:10 PM

When she died last year at age 92, Corrine F. Merrick was a retired teacher -- a veteran of the St. Paul public schools -- and the owner of a Highland Park home.

Last August, paramedics arrived to find her living in filthy conditions. At St. Joseph's Hospital, she was diagnosed with severe dementia, and despite the staff's advice that Merrick get 24-hour care, her nephew, Larry D. Fiscus, 63, succeeded in having her returned home, authorities say.

There, about two weeks later, a hospice nurse found Merrick "cowering in bed," clad only in a blanket and in a diaper overflowing with urine and feces, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court charging Fiscus with neglect of a vulnerable adult.

He had refused to give her pain medication, and was "physically rough" with Merrick during the nurse's visit, the charges say.

Merrick was again brought to St. Joseph's Hospital and eventually placed in the care of an emergency guardian: Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. She died Sept. 20.

The charges say that an investigator with Ramsey County Adult Protective Services had gone to the scene when the nurse discovered Merrick on Aug. 25, and that action was taken then to note that the woman was in "imminent danger."

The same county agency was notified of the alleged maltreatment earlier, too, according to the charges. But the complaint does not say whether Ramsey County knew of the allegations before Merrick was returned to the home.

On Wednesday, county spokesman Art Coulson said he could not speak about the case because information about vulnerable adults is private under state law.

"We can't even acknowledge we have someone in the system," he said.

Fiscus, whose address in the complaint is that of his aunt, is to make his first court appearance on the gross misdemeanor charge March 20.

Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041

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