Joseph Duffy

As Joseph Duffy stood in the tiny basement room inside the Maybrook courthouse at his bond hearing on July 12, 2012, Judge Geary Kull called the charges against Duffy “the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen.”

Duffy, who was 60 years old at the time, was charged with neglecting his bed-ridden, disabled wife so badly over a period of several years that when she died on Sept. 1, 2011, she weighed just 54 pounds and was covered with bed sores.

After being indicted and charged with 10 counts of criminal neglect of a senior or disabled person, Duffy faced between four and 14 years in prison. 

But after serving a little more than two and a half years in Cook County Jail while he was awaiting trial, Duffy is no longer in jail. At a court hearing on Feb. 17, Duffy, 63, pleaded guilty to one count of neglect — specifically, that he “knowingly failed to perform acts that he knew or reasonably should have known were necessary to maintain or preserve the life or health of Mary Jane Duffy, and such failure caused Mary Jane Duffy’s life to be endangered.”

Kull, who appeared disgusted at Duffy’s bond hearing, accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Duffy to five years in prison. Credited with 952 days served in jail, Duffy walked out of Cook County Jail two days later, a parolee. 

Exactly where Duffy lives now is unknown. The condominium in the 8800 block of 45th Place in Brookfield where police arrested him on July 11, 2012 is presently vacant. A “no trespassing” notice taped to the window refers people to a Florida-based property management firm.

Less than a week after Duffy was indicted by a grand jury in July 2012, the bank holding the mortgage on the Duffy’s condominium began foreclosure proceedings. A judgement of foreclosure was entered on Jan. 22, 2013, and the condominium was sold at auction on June 5, 2014 for $39,500.

Through a trust created for her, Mary Jane Duffy had purchased the condo in July 2001 for $105,500.

Just two years later, when she was 52 years old, the Office of the Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services issued its first report alleging that Joseph Duffy was neglecting his wife, who would be diagnosed with dementia in 2005.

In 2007, a nurse’s assistant complained to the Office of the Inspector General again and an investigator concurred that Joseph Duffy was physically, mentally and financially exploiting his wife.

At the time, the unemployed Duffy told the state investigator that he would not place Mary Jane Duffy, who previously worked at Commonwealth Edison and was drawing a disability pension, at a medical facility because, according to the state investigator, “he will be without her income to meet his needs,” which included a $500 per month car payment, the investigator noted.

In March 2008, Mary Jane Duffy conveyed control of the condominium to her husband via quit claim deed, and the same day secured a $124,000 mortgage on the property.

That November, Mary Jane Duffy granted her husband power of attorney, which would provide him the power to deny his wife the medical care she needed and allow him to remove her from a nursing home in 2009, even after she had filed an order of protection against him.

From 2009 until she was removed for the last time from the 45th Place condominium by paramedics in August 2011, Mary Jane Duffy’s primary caregiver was Joseph Duffy. Although the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services provided an assistant to come to the condo for five hours daily (three hours on weekends) between 2007 and 2011, Joseph Duffy was her primary caregiver and reportedly refused to attend to his “bed-ridden, incontinent and helpless” wife.

The assistant, according to prosecutors, “continually” told Joseph Duffy that Mary Jane needed medical care but that he refused to provide it.

When a registered nurse finally visited, the home on Aug. 20, 2011 for a hospice assessment, what he found was shocking. Mary Jane Duffy reportedly lay on an army cot, curled into a fetal position, bones “protruding from under her skin.” She was blind and non-verbal and suffering from several stage 4 bedsores. She weighed 54 pounds.

The nurse said she needed hospitalization, but Joseph Duffy refused. Three days later Brookfield police and paramedics arrived with social workers from the Illinois Department on Aging. Police reportedly convinced Duffy to let paramedics take her away, saying, “Great, now I am going to lose her Social Security and pension check.”

Mary Jane Duffy died Sept. 1, 2011 at the age of 61. 

Joseph Duffy was finally arrested on July 11, 2012 after a 10-month investigation. His projected discharge from parole is Feb. 19, 2017, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections website.