Lawsuit: Carl DeBrodie died after caretakers forced him to fight for their amusement
JEFFERSON CITY —
More than a year after Carl DeBrodie's dead body was found in a storage unit, court documents in his wrongful death lawsuit have revealed specific information about what may have caused his death.
According to an amended complaint filed on behalf of the developmentally disabled man's biological mother, the Fulton man was forced to physically fight a co-resident of the independent living facility where he resided. The lawsuit claims he sustained serious injuries including broken ribs as a result of the fighting. Sometime between October and November 2016, he and an unnamed resident stayed overnight on the floor of Sherry Paulo's home. Paulo was an employee of Second Chance Homes of Fulton, the facility tasked with taking care of DeBrodie. Another employee of the facility, Anthony Flores, would also stay overnight at Paulo's home. That night, Flores heard DeBrodie screaming and eventually found him non-responsive and convulsing on the basement floor, according to the lawsuit.
Flores and the unnamed resident moved DeBrodie's body to a bathtub in Paulo's home. Paulo would not call 911 while Carl bled from his nose and mouth and continued to convulse in the bathtub, according to court records. The lawsuit concludes no one attempted any life-saving measures on DeBrodie that night, and that he died as a result of episode.
"Carl remained in the bathtub for two to three days until he was ultimately placed into the City of Fulton trash can, encased in concrete and placed into a storage unit," attorney Rudy Veit wrote.
Veit told KRCG 13 Wednesday night the graphic details of DeBrodie's death come from documents collected from the Callaway County Prosecutor's Office and Attorney General's Office. Veit said the county's Public Administrator's Office refuses to hand over DeBrodie's file. Veit said defendants listed from Second Chance Homes of Fulton claim all their documents were handed over to the attorney general's office. "If that's the truth, if there are no other documents, then we know they didn't do what they're supposed to do, and we know they covered it up," Veit said Wednesday night.
Aside from being forced to fight, Veit wrote DeBrodie was verbally abused and denied requisite habilitation services and training by Second Chance Homes of Fulton and its employees.
The complaint also alleges a registered nurse with the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Melissa Delap, submitted false reports indicating she had made face-to-face contact with DeBrodie. Several months elapsed without employees of the department making face-to-face contact with DeBrodie. An employee of Callaway County Special Services, Tiffany Keipp, submitted reports to supervisors indicating she had visited with DeBrodie between October of 2016 through March of 2017, but no such contact was made, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged for several months leading up to DeBrodie's disappearance, members of the Callaway County Special Services and the independent living facility prevented his biological mother, Carolyn Summers and plaintiff Carol Samson, from seeing or visiting him.
Keipp and another employee of Callaway County Special Services, Robin Love, discussed moving Carl and other residents from the facility. In October 2016, they notified Second Chance Homes and its owner, Rachel Rowden, they intended to move DeBrodie and two other residents from the facility. DeBrodie was not present for the meeting. "Though physically present, Keipp and Love did not attempt to make contact with [him] to check on his health and well-being even though it was reported by Paulo that DeBrodie was not in good health," the lawsuit said. Paulo informed those attending the meeting DeBrodie was in his room and not in good health, according to the lawsuit.
Rowden told Love, Second Chance Homes of Fulton would be put out of business if DeBrodie and the two residents were removed from the facility. The Callaway County Special Services employees allowed DeBrodie to remain in the facility's care. Keipp and Love were apparently aware of the verbal and physical abuse occurring toward DeBrodie but did not report it or take corrective action, according to the lawsuit.
A receptionist with Callaway County Special Services hung up on KRCG 13 when asked about the employment status of defendants named in the lawsuit. A receptionist for the Missouri Department of Mental Health said no one by the name of Melissa Delap was employed with the agency.
Employees of Second Chance Homes of Fulton reported DeBrodie went missing in April 2017, the day new ownership was set to take over the independent living facility. The lawsuit claims DeBrodie's body was placed inside of a trash bin, which was then placed into a wooden container, wherein concrete was poured, encasing his body.
"Based on the level of decomposition, [his] body had been encased in concrete for several months," Veit wrote.
According to the lawsuit, though the date of death is unknown, DeBrodie's death certificate lists April 24, 2017 as his death date. The cause of death is listed as "unknown."
The suit seeks judgement of two counts of wrongful death, multiple civil rights violations, civil conspiracy, and negligent supervision.
Arrests have yet to be made and criminal charges have yet to be filed in DeBrodie's death. Fulton Police Chief Steve Myers was out of the office until Friday, according to someone answering phones at the police department.
The amended complaint names more people potentially responsible for DeBrodie's death:
Second Chance Homes of Fulton defendants:
- Sherry Paulo - employee
- Anthony Flores Sr. - employee
- Rachael Rowden- owner
Missouri Department of Mental Health defendants:
- Mark Stringer- Director
- Valerie Huhn- Director of Developmental Disabilities Division
- Wendy Witcig - Deputy Director DDD
- Marcy Volner- Assistant Director DDD
- Wendy Davis - Director of DDD- Central MO Regional Office
- Melissa Delpa - Community Nurse
Callaway County Special Services defendants:
- Julia Kaufmann - Executive Director
- Tiffany Keipp
Callaway County Public Administrator's Office
- Karren Allen
- Robin Rees Love