Allegheny County police investigate suspicious death in Harrison

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The brother and housemate of a 60-year-old mentally disabled stroke victim have been charged with beating the incapacitated man with fists and a stick, dousing him with water and spray-painting him in their Harrison home Sunday, the day before police and medics responded to a 911 call for cardiac arrest and found him dead on a couch.

Charged today in the beating of Ronald Duff were his brother, Larry Duff, 56, and Jason Link, 22, who all lived at 112 Blueridge Drive.

The death is suspicious and the cause and manner of death are pending an autopsy, scheduled for Wednesday, and further investigation, said Allegheny County homicide Lt. Andrew Schurman.

The suspects are each charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, neglect of care of a dependent person and conspiracy. Family members told police Mr. Duff, who was mentally disabled, suffered a stroke about nine months ago and required assistance for his daily needs.

According to an affidavit supporting the charges, Lisa Duff, Larry Duff's ex-wife, told investigators that she served Ronald Duff a bowl of soup about 7:30 p.m. Sunday and he dumped it on the floor. Jason Link then punched him twice in the right temple with a closed fist, causing him to fall back onto a couch.

Lisa Duff said Mr. Link then spray-painted Ronald Duff's right leg with black paint and poured water on him. Mr. Link then went to his room.

Larry Duff then came downstairs and punched the victim twice in the head and ordered John Jurovich, another person in the house, to clean up the soup.

Ronald Duff was laying on the couch and appeared to be sleeping when Larry Duff and Mr. Link began beating the victim with a wooden stick kept behind the television set, Lisa Duff said.

She also said she had seen Mr. Link use a stun gun on the victim in the past. Both the stick, which appeared to have dried blood on it, and the stun gun were recovered from the home by detectives, the affidavit said.

Lisa Duff said that about 10:30 a.m. Monday, Larry Duff woke her up and told her and Mr. Jurovich to take Ronald Duff upstairs and give him a bath. She said the victim was unresponsive but appeared to be still breathing and had to be carried upstairs. She said she scrubbed blood off the victim's face and after the bathing he was pulled out of the tub and laid on the floor where he was dried off and dressed in clean clothes.

Lisa Duff said he was then carried back downstairs and placed on the couch. Larry Duff said that if anyone asked, to say the victim fell down the steps, she told police. Larry Duff then told Mr. Link to call 911.

Harrison police and Citizens Hose paramedics responded and Mr. Duff was pronounced dead at 1:40 p.m. Police contacted county homicide detectives after noticing cuts and bruises on Mr. Duff's face, head and body. It also appeared Mr. Duff was emaciated.

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First Published October 16, 2012 9:30 AM


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