The brother and housemate of a 60-year-old mentally and physically disabled man now face criminal homicide charges after the Allegheny County Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide.
Larry Duff, 56, and Jason Link, 22, were charged Tuesday in the death of Ronald Duff, who police believe they fatally beat for dropping a bowl of soup on the floor.
Witnesses told county police detectives the men regularly punched the victim, as often as every other day, since he was released from his nursing home six months earlier and began living with them in a house in Harrison.
Paramedics found his emaciated dead body covered in cuts and bruises on the couch of the home Oct. 15 when they responded to a 911 call for cardiac arrest, according to an affidavit.
A witness, Larry Duff's ex-wife Lisa Duff, told county police that the night before Mr. Link punched Ronald Duff twice in the right temple, spray-painted his leg and poured water on him after the man dropped a bowl of soup on the floor. She said Larry Duff delivered two more blows to his brother's head and the victim laid on the couch after the attacks, appearing to be asleep.
She said the men also beat Ronald Duff with a wooden stick and she had seen Mr. Link use a stun gun on him in the past. Ms. Duff admitted to having beaten the victim with the stick before as well.
Ms. Duff washed dried blood off Ronald Duff's unresponsive body the morning after the beating, dressed him in clean clothes and placed him on the couch again with the help of the men. She said her ex-husband then told everyone to say his brother fell down the stairs and ordered Mr. Link to call 911.
Paramedics pronounced Ronald Duff dead at 1:40 p.m. The medical examiner is awaiting further test results to determine a cause of death.
The suspects were initially arrested last week and charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and tampering with evidence. Larry Duff also has been charged with neglect of a care-dependent person. Both remain in Allegheny County Jail.
Ms. Duff, 39, was arrested Wednesday on charges of simple assault, neglect of a care dependent person and tampering with evidence, and is also in county jail.neigh_north
Taryn Luna: 412-263-1985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.