Three Arrested For Murder In Relative's Starvation Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 9, 2004
OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE--Three people were arrested Wednesday on first-degree murder charges and held on $1 million bail each for the starvation death of a relative who had disabilities.
The body of 35-year-old Karen Dreager was found on August 31 in the home of her adopted sister, Debra McMahon.
Dreager, who had cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair, weighed just 50 pounds. A medical examiner determined that she had been dead between 24 and 60 hours when her body was discovered in a back room of the home. Scented candles and fly tape had apparently been used to keep people from detecting her corpse.
The medical examiner also found that Dreager had multiple pressure sores, was covered in filth, and that her toenails had not been tended to in a long time .
Dreager had moved from New Jersey to McMahon's home 18 months earlier. A former neighbor in New Jersey told reporters that Dreager used to weigh 200 pounds and needed two people to lift her from her wheelchair. She reportedly became depressed and stopped eating properly after her mother died in 2000.
An Anderson County grand jury handed down the indictment on Tuesday.
McMahon, 39, her husband Paul, 41, and their 18-year-old daughter, Kimberly, were charged with the crime. A 15-year-old son has not been charged.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Oak Ridge Police Chief David Beams told reporters Wednesday night that Dreager had been receiving federal disability payments, which were deposited into an account she shared with McMahon.
"This is the kind of thing that is almost incomprehensible, even for those of us that are in this kind of work," Beams said at the press conference.
The three face arraignment on December 20 in Anderson County Criminal Court.
"Oak Ridge family faces murder charges" (Knoxville News Sentinel)