Many of Andrew Jones’s neighbours thought he lived alone in Lawrence Heights – until Tuesday, when paramedics used a blanket to carry his emaciated sister out of his townhouse.
The 60-year-old woman hadn’t eaten in days, police said, and she had been living in a room infested with cockroaches. Almost three months ago, Jones’s malnourished 95-year-old mother was removed from the same room.
“The conditions they were living in were absolutely repulsive,” said Det. Const. Kathy Washington. “It was probably the most horrifying thing I’ve gone through in my career.”
Jones, 55, was arrested at his Amaranth Crt. home Tuesday and charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and two counts of failing to provide the necessities of life.
Outside a North York courthouse yesterday, where Jones was granted bail, he walked to a friend’s car while covering his face with a police pamphlet.
“(I’m) totally innocent. They were homeless, I tried to help them,” he said.
Police were initially called to the townhouse on April 17, where officers discovered the elderly mother near death.
She had been starving for several weeks, police said.
The woman was taken to hospital, where she remains in serious but stable condition.
“At the time, there was nothing to suggest (criminal negligence),” Const. Wendy Drummond said.
Susan Eng, vice-president in charge of advocacy for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, said that if police had charged Jones back in April “they would have done a full investigation and discovered the evidence that there was another person who might have been just as easily affected by his neglect.
“The investigation, even just bringing the force of the law to bear like this, may or may not change his behaviour (but) might have brought the sister out of danger and alerted other neighbours and other members of the family to realize that this was serious.”Investigators were doing a follow-up to the first call on Tuesday when they found the sister, Washington said.
“She was in the area of about 50 pounds. It was awful,” she said.
Neighbours were stunned to hear about the charges, describing Jones as a reclusive man who was occasionally visited by his teenaged son.
“He never mentioned the women,” said his next-door neighbour. “He was quiet, you know, secretive. Just, `Hi, how are you?’ and then on with his day.”
Another neighbour, who identified himself as Dominic, said the allegations have rattled his family.
“It’s quite concerning because it happened right next door and we never had a clue,” he said.
With files from Dale Anne Freed