Making their way through a Scantic Meadow Road home littered with empty beer cans, garbage and feces, officers last November found the emaciated body of a 94-year-old man in a back bedroom. He had been there for days, police were told.
With eyes sunken into his head and little muscle on his gaunt frame, it was clear to officers that Robert Libby was the victim of "severe neglect," an arrest warrant affidavit for his son says. His death was ruled a homicide.
An ensuing, months-long investigation led police to charge James Libby, 59, this week with first-degree manslaughter, first-degree abuse and cruelty to persons. In justifying the manslaughter charge, investigators wrote: "James intentionally did not check on Robert or provide him with any food, water, or diaper changes knowing that Robert was completely reliant on him to survive," the arrest warrant affidavit states.
The officers said Robert Libby's body showed the signs of someone subjected to long-term starvation. They said he did not appear to have "sufficient muscle" to get out of bed or care for himself, and that Libby was found lying on an uncovered mattress in his own waste, with toenails and fingernails that did not appear to have been cut for "an extremely long ... time," the affidavit states.
The house was in "complete disarray," covered with empty beer cans, human feces and infested with fleas. "It was an absolute hoarding situation," Deputy Chief Scott Custer said Thursday. "Thousands of beer cans, a path to the toilet, a path to the bed ..."
Police said James Libby never notified them that his father had died, but rather they were contacted on Nov. 18 by grandchildren who had received messages from their estranged uncle, James, that Robert Libby was dead and that he was "contemplating suicide," the affidavit says.
Officers had been to the home twice in the past after calls from a relative and a neighbor, but James had not cooperated, barring them from entering the home to see the father, the affidavit says. He would speak to officers only by phone, putting his father on to speak to them as well.
Just after midnight on Nov. 19, officers knocked on the door of the Scantic Meadow Road home, but received no answer. When they said they were going to force entry, James Libby came to the door, the affidavit says. Speaking to those officers outside, he told them his father had been dead inside for several days.
The officers went in and found Robert Libby's body, the affidavit says. The state's chief medical examiner, Dr. James Gill, told investigators that it appeared Robert Libby had been dead for about a week. Custer said his diaper had nearly rotted off his body.
James Libby told investigators he gave his father 24-hour care, including feeding him, giving him water, changing his diapers and helping him to the bathroom because he could not get out of bed on his own, the affidavit says.
James Libby also told investigators providing this care for last decade was difficult, saying his father yelled at him and was argumentative, the affidavit read. He said he would let the comments slide off him, instead giving his father everything and never focused on himself, though it was "very tiring," the affidavit states.
When asked by investigators if he would have done anything differently, he said he would have sought medical treatment for his father a month earlier, the affidavit says.
Robert Libby, a veteran, had received treatment from the veteran's hospital in Connecticut, the affidavit says. James Libby believed his father was suffering from dementia, but told investigators he wasn't aware of any other medical ailments, it says. Records from the VA show that Robert Libby had not seen a doctor since 2013.
Reached at his home in Florida on Thursday, James's brother, Thomas Libby, declined to comment. In the affidavit, Thomas Libby said his father had sent out a packet of notes several years earlier documenting arguments between he and James. In one of the notes, Robert Libby wrote: "50 yr old that fights with his father isn't much drunk all of the time drinks 40 cans in two days may just kill me tonight. I told him that i want him out of my house tonight and that I will go to police Sat," according to the affidavit.
When investigators asked James Libby about his drinking habit, he admitted to having a couple beers a day, the affidavit read. A picture of the home shows empty cans piled high across a room.
He told investigators that he was unemployed and used Robert Libby's social security and military disability money to pay his bills, the affidavit says.
Since the discovery of his father's body in November, James Libby has been receiving mental health treatment. During a brief court appearance this week, a judge ordered James Libby held on $750,000 bond. He is expected to appear April 27 in Hartford Superior Court.