Kindred man accused of letting brother fatally freeze in filthy farmhouse
By Emily Welker / The Forum 61-year-old man is accused of letting his mentally ill brother freeze to death in their crumbling and filthy family farmhouse near Kindred, where his emaciated body, gnawed by rodents, was discovered in January. Ronald...
By Emily Welker / The Forum
61-year-old man is accused of letting his mentally ill brother freeze to death in their crumbling and filthy family farmhouse near Kindred, where his emaciated body, gnawed by rodents, was discovered in January.
Ronald Allan Simmons, brother of 58-year-old Bruce Simmons, told investigators at the time that he’d been in control of Bruce’s finances before Bruce died and that he admitted he’d neglected him in the past six months, according to court records. Simmons was charged Wednesday in Cass County District Court with one count of endangering a vulnerable adult, a Class B felony. An initial court appearance date for Simmons has not yet been set, and a warrant was issued for his arrest Thursday.
Bruce Simmons hadn’t left the house in five years, the last time he’d seen a doctor, his brother told investigators, according to court records.
The brothers once lived together, but Ronald Simmons had moved out of the farmhouse to a heated shop on the property after his brother’s hoarding made the house too filthy to live in, court documents state.
Utility records showed the house had little or no working heat since June 2013, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in January.
The elder brother brought his sibling one meal a day, but on the night of Jan. 12, he was unable to get inside the house because the front door was either locked or frozen shut, court records state. He called 911 for a welfare check on his brother.
When authorities arrived, they found garbage and various objects in the home, the house had become overrun with mice and the plumbing had not worked for six months, causing excrement to build up inside. Court documents describe the stench in the farmhouse as overpowering, of sewer, mouse droppings, and a strong chemical odor often associated with sewage or animal waste.
Deputies trying to make their way to the dead man’s body began to feel ill and had to leave until they donned protective gear and face masks, court documents say.
A search of the upper floors of the farmhouse revealed broken, crumbling walls, covered in frost.
The furnace had broken a couple of weeks before, Ronald Simmons told Cass County investigators, and had not been repaired, court records state.
The search warrant previously filed in Cass County District Court stated the temperature outside had been as cold as 20 degrees below zero during a recent cold snap.
The search warrant also says the dead man’s body was dressed only in a makeshift diaper with a belt holding it up, with some torn clothing cuffs around the ankles.
The body bore signs of fresh rodent bites, and the purple marks and open sores of frostbite, the search warrant says.
It also says deputies seized financial documents from the property after Ronald Simmons told them he had more than a half-million dollars in his bank account.
The investigation showed the dead brother’s trust was down to $6, the search warrant states, and Ronald Simmons was in charge of his brother’s finances – including his Social Security checks and the trust his father had left him.
Court documents filed with the criminal charges against Ronald Simmons say an autopsy on his brother’s body showed he died of hypothermia.
No telephone listing for the elder Simmons brother could be found.
Two days after his brother was found dead, Ronald Simmons told an investigator he had been caring for his brother for four years, but he admitted he had neglected him the past six months, authorities alleged in the search warrant affidavit.
His life would be better without his brother in it, and he had expected his brother’s death for some time, he told investigators.
“I just couldn’t take it anymore,” the search warrant affidavit quotes the brother as saying in that interview.