Carl DeBrodie loved westerns and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” action films and “Cops.” If he was sitting inside the house, his father would later say, he was watching television. Or eating. He loved to eat, too, especially his Grandma Shirley’s coleslaw.
Thirty-one years old but with the mental capacity of a young boy, DeBrodie needed constant attention and care. He lived in a group home called Second Chance in Fulton, Mo.
On April 17, 2017, he was reported missing. In reality, he had been gone for months.
Authorities were told that DeBrodie had walked off the property in his white New Balance sneakers. Local police combed the area with Missouri State Highway Patrol canines. Drones buzzed overhead looking for clues, 13 KRCG reported.
But those early searches turned up nothing.
“Carl means no harm to nobody,” his father, Larry Summers, told the television station while his son was missing. “He can’t talk that well, but he means no harm to anybody. He’s just a good little boy.”
The search expanded, with more than 100 leads arriving for police. Law enforcement officials eventually executed at least 12 search warrants looking for DeBrodie, including one on a storage unit in Fulton. Seven days after DeBrodie went missing, they discovered a city trash can filled with concrete. DeBrodie’s body was inside.
The discovery of the body spawned both local and federal investigations, as well as a federal wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of DeBrodie’s parents, who claim their son’s death was the result of bad care from the individuals tasked with keeping him safe.
The lawsuit also claims that DeBrodie was forced to fight another resident for the entertainment of his caretakers — an allegation that Fulton police dispute.
On Tuesday, five individuals were taken into custody on charges related to DeBrodie’s death, according to a news release from Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher D. Wilson.
Two individuals — Sherry K. Paulo and Anthony R. Flores — were both charged with client neglect, first-degree involuntary manslaughter, abandonment of a corpse and making a false report. Three others — Anthony R.K. Flores, Shaina A. Osborne, and Mary K. Paulo — were each charged with making a false report.
None of the defendants has appeared in court or commented publicly on the case.
The prosecutor suggested more charges could be on the way.
“As part of our ongoing cooperation and discussion with federal prosecutors, I have agreed not to pursue certain state criminal charges against these defendants, as well as other suspects in the investigation, to avoid interference with any federal criminal charges related to health care fraud that may be brought by the U.S. Department of Justice,” he stated.
Both Sherry K. Paulo and Anthony R. Flores are also named in the family’s wrongful death lawsuit. The complaint alleges Paulo and Flores, both qualified disability professionals with the group home, left DeBrodie to die in a bathtub months before he was first reported missing.
According to the lawsuit, DeBrodie was in the legal care of the state. Officials from the state and county mental health services “had a duty to monitor his health and safety” and “to complete a monthly face-to-face assessment.” However, the family’s legal complaint says the officials assigned to DeBrodie’s case “failed to do so” and even “drafted and submitted false reports indicating that face-to-face contact had in fact been made” in the months leading up to his death.
DeBrodie’s parents were also kept “from seeing or visiting with Carl,” in the months before his death, the complaint says. If either state officials or his parents had been able to see DeBrodie, they would have seen he was in a bad situation at the Second Chance home. “The last time any of Carl’s prescription medication had been filled by his pharmacy was August 2016,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims that sometime in either September or October 2016, Sherry K. Paulo began having DeBrodie and another facility resident stay overnight at her home in Fulton. There the two men were forced “to perform manual, unpaid labor around her personal residence.”
According to the lawsuit, both men were also forced to sleep overnight on the hard basement ground. And they were“forced to physically fight each other for the benefit and amusement” of Paulo and Flores. From this fight, DeBrodie allegedly suffered at least six broken ribs, bruising and a black eye.
Following the lawsuit’s filing, Fulton Police Chief Steve Myers disputed some of the claims made in the civil suit, specifically telling ABC 17 regarding the forced fighting. “We found no evidence of that during our investigation,” he said.
Authorities have not released a detailed account of how DeBrodie died. But the criminal involuntary manslaughter charges filed against Paulo and Flores state that the two “recklessly caused the death of Carl DeBrodie by failing to obtain medical services for DeBrodie while DeBrodie was suffering a medical emergency.”
According to the lawsuit, the death occurred on a night between Oct. 25, 2016 and Nov. 24, 2016. The men were again allegedly staying at Paulo’s house when DeBrodie began screaming in the night. He was discovered by Flores “non-responsive and convulsing.”
Instead of calling for help, Flores allegedly placed DeBrodie in a bathtub. There he began bleeding from his nose and mouth. Neither Paulo nor Flores called 911. DeBrodie died.
The caretakers left his body in the bathtub for “two or three days” until he was finally put in the trash can and covered in cement, the lawsuit claims.
After the arrests this week, DeBrodie’s family members expressed relief.
“We are thrilled, because it is the beginning of the other charges that would be coming down,” Mary Martin, a family friend, told KOMU. “We’ve waited over a year.”
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