Police: Northeast Philadelphia man starved elderly father to death

Thomas Houck

March 16, 2012 9:35:28 AM PDT
A man is in police custody, accused of starving his 82-year-old father to death and also neglecting his mother.

The Philadelphia district attorney's office said 57-year-old Thomas Houck, of Northeast Philadelphia, has been charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse.

Houck lived in the 3400 block of Kirkwood Road with his mother, Doris, and father, Leonard.

It was back on December 26th when medics were called to the home around 5:30 a.m. to check on Doris. When they got inside they found that Leonard was already dead in the basement and Doris was in 'terrible condition.'

The coroner later ruled that Leonard died of malnutrition and dehydration. Police believe his son, Thomas, purposely withheld food and water and purposefully kept people out of the house and away from his elderly parents.

According to the D.A.'s office, at that time Thomas Houck informed them that his father had died several days before and he didn't know what to do with the body. The victim was severely malnourished, and at the time of his death Leonard Houck was 5'7" inches tall and weighed only 79 pounds.

Police also believe Houck was working his parents' finances so, when they died, he would get their money.

The next door neighbor, Eileen Deluca, said she and other suspected something was very wrong and now wish they had done more. Now, they want to see Thomas Houck go to jail.

"They should make sure he goes to jail. Not a crazy place, a real jail," DeLuca said. "He knew what he was doing."

Neighbors say Doris Houck was taken to a rehabilitation hospital and is doing much better now - even though she had learn how to walk again. She was suffering from malnutrition and an infection.