Manslaughter charges dismissed in 2017 elder abuse case

Irene Strandt, 81, reportedly died after being found with her legs bound while in her son’s care.

EVERETT — Charges have been dismissed against a man who had been accused of first-degree manslaughter, after his mother was found lying in filth with sores, a broken hip and her legs tied together in late 2017.

Irene Strandt, 81, died from her injuries.

Charges were dropped because Kenneth William Strandt, 55, is not able to care for himself, according to documents newly filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

“The State no longer believes it can prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” deputy prosecutor Bob Langbehn wrote. “The defendant was recently evaluated for competency and, though competent, his own ability to care for himself is compromised. He is currently staying at a group home and it is uncertain when, if ever, he will be fully functioning again without assistance.”

On Dec. 1, 2017, Strandt called 911 to get help for his mother, who had reportedly been moaning the night before. They lived together in a house east of Mill Creek.

First responders found her on the floor with a purple sweater tied in knots around her legs. She had severe bed sores and was wrapped in blankets, though she was only wearing soiled underwear underneath, according police reports.

Detectives noted carpet in the home was covered in mold, dirt and human waste, and in some spots was rotting away. One detective reported that despite 20 years in law enforcement, “the smell of ammonia from urine in the home was so strong that it stung his eyes and throat,” documents say.

Investigators reported finding only mayonnaise and pop in the refrigerator. Strandt reportedly told detectives he had been feeding his mother peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and noodles. He reportedly said she hadn’t eaten a real meal in about two weeks.

Strandt was arrested and at first charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment, a felony. His only other criminal history was a DUI from 1986.

His mother died 16 days later. An autopsy found that her son’s “act of restraining her directly contributed to her death,” leading to a ruling of homicide.

Months later, Strandt was found competent to help in his own defense, and was charged with manslaughter. Jury trial dates have been scheduled in the past couple of years, but have been delayed, court records show. Langbehn, the deputy prosecutor, filed a motion to dismiss the case on Aug. 5.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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