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Independence man charged with forging dead mom’s Social Security check

An Independence man whose elderly mother was found near death in her home in squalid and filthy conditions has been charged with forgery.

Jackson County prosecutors charged James Owens, 52, on Thursday, alleging that he endorsed the Social Security check of his deceased mother, Carol F. Brown, 74, who died on Nov. 1.

Court records show that Owens cashed a $741 government check on Nov. 4 issued to his mother Nov. 3.

The Independence Police Department told prosecutors that a bank teller alerted police after Owens brought the check to the U.S. Bank at 110 E. U.S. 24 and handed it over along with a deposit ticket to her. When she typed in the account number she saw that it had been flagged as belonging to a deceased customer. She recognized that Owens was in the news regarding his mother’s death and called police.

Even though Owens was on the account with his mother, police said the check was issued to Carol Brown, with no other beneficiaries.

Brown was taken to a local hospital after she reportedly suffered a stroke. First responders found her in her home and described her as “a living corpse.” She had been left sitting in a vinyl reclining chair so long that her legs were fused to the chair and had to be pulled from it. Hospital officials, seeing her condition, reported it to police. Medical staff reported that they had discovered a maggot-infested open wound around her ankle.

Brown’s son told an investigator with the Missouri Division of Senior and Disability Services that he was his mother’s caretaker and had left her in the chair to satisfy her wish to die in her home. He said he fed her soup.

Brown told an investigator for the Division of Senior and Disability Services that she had been in the chair since Oct. 23. He told the investigator that he did not help his mother to the bathroom or bathe her “because he was honoring her wish to die in her home.”

Also found in the home were several prescription bottles of medication, including 20 bottles in the kitchen alone.

Independence police said they are waiting on final autopsy results before sending the case to the county prosecutor.

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