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Haverford Township woman arrested for neglect of 83-year-old mother leading to her death

Media, PA – Today Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland and Haverford Police Chief John Viola announced the arrest of Ellyn Gottlieb, 58, of the 200 block of David Drive of Havertown, who is charged with the death of her 83-year-old mother. The investigation was conducted by Sergeant Anthony Ruggieri of Delaware County District Attorney’s Office Criminal Investigation Division Senior Exploitation Unit and the Haverford Police Department Detective Division.

Ellyn Gottlieb, 58, of the 200 block of David Drive of Havertown, was arrested on June 4, 2019, and charged with neglect of care-dependent person and aggravated assault, both felonies of the first degree, involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor of the first degree, and theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception, both felonies of the third degree. An investigation was launched by detectives following a referral from County of Delaware Services for the Aging (COSA).

On January 10th and 11th of 2018, COSA visited the 83-year-old victim’s residence on the 200 block of David Drive in Havertown to check on the well-being of the victim but was refused entry into the home by the victim’s daughter, Ellyn Gottlieb. On January 11, 2018, Haverford Police was called to the scene by COSA and, after much discussion, Ellyn Gottlieb allowed the police to enter the residence. The residence had structural damage, water leaks, exhibited signs of hoarding, and the odor of urine and feces emanated throughout the home. When police spoke to the victim, she declined the need for medical attention and confirmed that her daughter Ellyn Gottlieb was caring for her.

On January 17, 2018, Haverford Police and Narberth Ambulance responded to the victim’s residence for lifting assistance for a fall. Narberth Ambulance personnel observed hoarding, structural damage, feces, and flies within the home. The victim’s daughter, Ellyn Gottlieb, told ambulance personnel that the house had been sold on sheriff’s sale for non-payment of taxes and they would be moving soon. The victim was transported to Bryn Mawr Hospital for treatment.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the 83-year-old victim was found with caked-on feces on her body as well as significant skin breakdown, including numerous sores and stage four ulcers as a result of being left in the same position for long periods of time. The medical care plan reported that the victim was very hungry, and had so many wounds and sores that they could not be counted. The hospital initiated a sepsis protocol and the victim was taken into surgery. The victim’s assessment revealed the victim had a clear history of dementia, could not care for or make decisions for herself, did not know she had wounds and was unable to comprehend how to care for herself. On January 26, 2018, the victim was discharged from Bryn Mawr Hospital and admitted to Westgate Hill Nursing Facility where she died on March 12, 2018. The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was bacteremia, with probable sepsis due to multiple stage four ulcers and fistula.

The investigation found that at one time the victim was residing and thriving in Broomall Manor Nursing Home where she received occupational and physical therapy. However, in September 2017, Ellyn Gottlieb removed her mother after the nursing home attempted to collect $22,972.71 in outstanding payments. As part of the victim’s discharge plan from the nursing home, the victim was scheduled for home services through a home care agency. Ellyn Gottlieb did not follow the discharge care plan recommended for the victim; she failed to follow through with doctor appointments for the victim or home health care services.

Investigation revealed that Ellyn Gottlieb was the victim’s power of attorney and the only person to have access to the victim’s bank accounts. As such, Ellyn Gottlieb received her mother’s monthly pension of $2,279.31 and social security payment of $1,668 that were deposited into the victim’s bank accounts. Law enforcement investigation revealed that the victim’s bank accounts were overdrawn. A financial analysis revealed that while the victim was in the nursing home, there were $88,695.70 in unauthorized purchases from the victim’s accounts, including 83 Tophatter bidding website purchases, 19 QVC purchases, and multiple ATM cash withdrawals. Additionally, Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau verified that the victim’s home was listed for Upset Sale in 2015, 2016, and 2017 for non-payment of taxes.

“This is a tragic case where a mother was inhumanely treated by her daughter, the person entrusted with her care, ultimately resulting in the victim’s death. Ellyn Gottlieb clearly had no regard for human decency and life, as she stole from her mother and left her to die due to lack of basic care,” said District Attorney Katayoun Copeland. “As the result of excellent investigative work by Sergeant Anthony Ruggieri of our Senior Exploitation Unit, the Haverford Police Department, and County of Delaware Services for the Aging, Ellyn Gottlieb will be held accountable for failing to care for her own mother for which she was responsible, ultimately leading to the victim’s death.”

Assistant District Attorney Erica G. Parham, Chief of the District Attorney’s Office Senior Exploitation Unit, will be prosecuting the case.