Name: Jarrod Tutko, Jr.
Died: July 29, 2014
Age at death: 9
Cause of death: Starvation, dehydration
Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Jarrod, often called “Junior”, had five siblings, ages 13, 12, 10, 6 and 3–four sisters and a brother. Jarrod was diagnosed with Fragile X at 11 months and had developmental delays and autism. The family was very isolated; they had received nursing care to help with their children, but had dismissed the nurses. Neighbors sometimes saw two of Jarrod’s sisters on the porch, and Jarrod’s brother spent most of his time away from the house, but they didn’t even know Jarrod and the other two girls existed.
Jarrod Jr. did not go to school and was kept on the third floor of the house and cared for by his father. He lived in a bare, filthy attic room, often left alone except for meals, while downstairs his mother cared for his sister Arianna.
Jarrod’s mother said that she had not seen her son since 2010. This implies that Jarrod Jr. had lived in the attic room, or at least been very isolated, since the age of 4-5 years. He was not potty-trained and would not wear diapers, but how much of that was due to Fragile X and how much due to neglect? The near-total lack of therapy and education would have greatly decreased Jarrod’s potential to learn useful skills. He had nothing to play with, no one to interact with. We will never know how much Jarrod could have learned if he had been allowed to leave the house, attend school, and experience the world. At school, Jarrod could have received therapy and education on self-care and communication, and his behavioral problems would have been examined and addressed; but he was denied that opportunity.
Jarrod’s mother spent most of her time caring for his ten-year-old sister Arianna, whose severe brain damage required full-time nursing care, and left Jarrod to his father. Worried that Jarrod would spread germs to Arianna, Jarrod’s mother never saw her son. A year before he died, a neighbor reported abuse in the family, but the social workers found no problems and closed their file.
When his father found Jarrod dead, he wrapped the little boy in a sheet and left his body on the floor of the room for four days, hiding Jarrod Jr.’s death from his mother until it was no longer possible. When Jarrod’s mother finally saw his body, she called the authorities. Jarrod’s father admitted to not checking on Jarrod for two days before he found the little boy dead.
An autopsy and further tests were ordered, and the corner reported that Jarrod had been severely malnourished and dehydrated when he died. At 40 inches tall and just 16.9 pounds, Jarrod had died of starvation. He also had two severely abscessed teeth that would have caused him severe pain, but had never seen a dentist.
Jarrod’s father was immediately arrested and charged with child endangerment and failure to report a child's death. Jarrod’s siblings were taken to foster care; his mother was arrested some time later. Both parents were convicted of murder and child neglect and are serving prison terms.
Police report and charges
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Cause of death undetermined for 9-year-old Harrisburg boy Jarrod Tutko Jr.
Authority on Fragile X: Child with this syndrome belonged in school
Coroner: Starvation contributed to death of Harrisburg boy, 9
Parents of autistic Pennsylvania boy charged in starvation death
Court refuses to cut Kimberly Tutko’s prison term for starving death of her 9-year-old son