Two years before he was charged with felony abuse or neglect in connection with his wife's death, Joseph Duffy admitted to police and state officials that he regularly handcuffed the frail, disabled woman to her wheelchair or to her bed while he left their Brookfield home for hours.
Yet, during this time, when details of alleged neglect and abuse leading to the death of Mary Jane Duffy last year -- including allegations about the handcuffs -- were available in the form of police reports, no agency stepped in to remove her from what a Cook County prosecutor would later call psychological and physical "torture" at the hands of her husband.
All during this time, Joseph Duffy, 60, openly admitted that the only reason he wanted his terminally ill wife to keep on living was to be able to spend her disability checks on himself, court documents state.
Contacted by telephone, Joseph Duffy declined to comment on Thursday. He was charged July 12 and has since bonded out.
Mary Jane Duffy, who suffered from a brain disorder that led to dementia and Alzheimer's, died Sept. 1 at age 61 from what prosecutors have stated involved profound neglect. A medical examiner found that Duffy weighed only 54 pounds and was covered with 15 bedsores, including four that penetrated to the bone. The examiner stated that "spousal neglect" contributed to her death.
But the state agency that could have immediately removed her from her husband's care two years before her death when she was hospitalized for a few days with injuries that police and medical professionals suspected were caused by her husband, instead invoked an OIG administrative rule and failed to investigate.
The rule? Because Mary Jane Duffy was headed temporarily from the hospital to a nursing home for a few months of rehabilitative therapy, she became "ineligible" for the adults with disabilities program, including an OIG investigation into whether the injuries were the result of neglect or abuse. An investigator ruled that if Duffy was to be living in the nursing home and not in her residence, she didn't qualify for help.
A copy of a redacted report from the agency -- the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Human Services -- stated, "(name redacted) became ineligible for services by the Adults with Disabilities Abuse Program at the outset of her placement (in a nursing home)." That ended any attempt by the OIG to investigate.
Januari Smith Trader, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, has stated that this case was investigated by the OIG even though paperwork later supplied by her agency under the Freedom of Information Act states otherwise. She has declined any further comment regarding Mary Jane Duffy.
In June, the Belleville News-Democrat reported that the deaths of 53 disabled adults who lived at home but died in a hospital soon after they were the subject of calls to the OIG hotline, were not investigated. The rule invoked for not investigating those cases, according to agency records, was "the dead are ineligible for services."
"Any rational, thinking person with a heart would have taken these people out of these homes," said State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, who heads the Human Services Committee that oversees DHS. "There was a clear and present danger there. Action should have been taken. It's totally unbelievable that it wasn't."
Harris, who has convened a meeting of the committee for July 31 in Chicago to discuss the OIG, said, "I am beginning to wonder if the failure to act by this agency in these death cases equates to criminal culpability."
Harris called for a review of all cases handled by the OIG, not just the death cases.
The BND's reporting resulted in the resignation of DHS Inspector General William M. Davis effective Aug. 1 and the issuing of an executive order by Gov. Pat Quinn directing the agency to investigate all deaths of disabled adults living at home since 2003 that came to their attention. The order also revamps many practices at the agency. A new inspector general has yet to be named.
Brookfield police responded to the Duffy residence in January 2009 when they confiscated Joseph Duffy's handcuffs and handcuff key. He stated that he needed to restrain his wife because she was turning on the gas stove and playing with butcher knives. According to a police report, Joseph Duffy was told to find some other way to restrain his wife because of the potential danger of trapping her in a fire while she was handcuffed to her wheelchair or to a bed.
At this time, the OIG "substantiated" that Mary Jane Duffy had been abused because her husband had improperly confined her. However, instead of using the agency's power to remove her to a nursing home, the case was referred to the Department of Rehabilitative Services, a division of DHS. A part-time hospice worker was assigned to look in on Mary Jane Duffy each day. The caregiver repeatedly reported to supervisors that Joseph Duffy was neglecting and verbally abusing his wife, but no one intervened to remove the disabled woman.
Six months later, the OIG received the call in August 2009 that Joseph Duffy took away his wife's walker, causing her to fall and sustain two black eyes and cuts on her head and nose. She told the investigator she was left alone every night, often handcuffed, because her husband was out with a "special friend," according to the redacted OIG investigative report. At this time, the apartment's telephone had been removed because Joseph Duffy didn't want his wife calling the police.
Mary Jane Duffy, then 58, told the OIG investigator when he came to the hospital that she was happy with her impending entry into a nursing home and did not want to return to living with her husband who she said she feared. This was when she was declared "ineligible" for services and her case was closed.
Six months after police had confiscated at least one set of handcuffs from Joseph Duffy, she told a nursing home administrator he was still using them.
"Mary told Julie Adduci (the nursing home administrator) that she was afraid of Joseph and told Julie that she didn't take care of her and handcuffs her to the bed ... Mary told her that she felt safe and cared for at the (nursing home)," according to a Brookfield Police Department report.
The report goes on to state that when Joseph Duffy attempted to visit his wife, "he had been asked to leave (the nursing home) on several occasions due to his outbursts with Mary and the staff."
Mary Jane Duffy was at the nursing home for a few weeks, but, when it appeared she would be released in September 2009, Adduci got her transferred to another nursing home in nearby Lyle where she stayed until Oct. 16, 2009, when Joseph Duffy showed up, "waving power of attorney papers," and took her back to the apartment.
She lived for two more years in the Brookfield apartment where she was neglected, often left to lie in her own feces, and told daily by her husband that he wished she would, "drop dead," according to court records quoting the hospice worker who said she tried to care for her client but was thwarted by Joseph Duffy.
Finally, his wife was rescued in August after investigators from the Department of Aging and police were called to the home and found her unconscious; curled into a fetal position with numerous infected lesions on her body.
By this time, the OIG was no longer involved in the case because Mary Jane Duffy had turned 60 and came under the jurisdiction of the Department of Aging. She died nine days after her rescue.
At this time last year when Mary Jane Duffy was removed from her apartment for the last time, local police and state officials watched while Joseph Duffy called a hospice worker tending to his wife a "pompous bitch" and insisted no one had a right to remove Mary Jane to a hospital.
Joseph Duffy yelled at police and screamed, "No one tells me how to take care of my wife. I make the decisions," the report stated.
When an ambulance showed up to take his wife to the hospital where she would soon die, the police report states that Joseph Duffy told a Brookfield cop, "Thanks. I just lost everything. Now I lose her Social Security and pension. There goes my house and car."