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Ludlow Teen Died in Horrid Conditions, Family Feared Criminal Charges

The bed sores on Joseph Bishop's young body were so gruesome at his death, that Kenton District Judge Ann Ruttle sneered at his mother, grandmother, and grandfather as they appeared in court Tuesday to face manslaughter charges.

"They let him rot," Ruttle barked. 

That characterization fit the testimony from Detective Eric Love of the Ludlow Police Department who responded ten days ago to Children's Hospital in Cincinnati where Bishop died. "I was informed that he had just passed," Love told the court as the 18-year old's mother, Jamie Bishop, and grandparents, Ray and Sharon Martin were seated for their preliminary hearing. "I was informed that he died from an infection from bed sores caused by neglect."

Bishop suffered from Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spent the past several years in bed. Even his wheelchair went mostly unused and a lift that could have helped bring the boy out of bed was found behind the house on Lake Street, folded up.

Medication that had been prescribed for the teen went unused or unfinished, including one prescription that dates back to 2014 and requiring multiple dosages a day.

The boy's bed sores were treated by his mother and grandparents with an antibiotic ointment purchased at a nearby dollar store. Love said in court on Tuesday that the family originally suggested that that they thought Bishop's illness could be kept under control by their efforts, but later amended that story to letting him know that they feared punishment for neglect.

When officers arrived at the Lake Street house, Bishop's bedroom had been tidied up. His mattress had been taken out to the backyard, and there were receipts from that day where the family went to the dollar store for cleaning supplies. Three days after Bishop's death, Ray Martin, 67, Sharon Martin, 65, and Jamie Bishop, 40, were all in custody facing a second degree manslaughter charge.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has also opened an investigation, it was reported Tuesday by the Cincinnati Enquirer​.

According to Love, all three defendants stated that the boy was their shared responsibility.

But that responsibility to them, it was said in court on Tuesday, was to spread an ointment from a small tube over bed sores that spread all over the boy's body. Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said that the sores were deep, and that tissue and bone were visible. Love confirmed this, and said that the largest one was about the same size as a softball in diameter, as he held his hands up and together for Judge Ruttle to see.

The case is now in the hands of the Kenton County Grand Jury which will decide whether to indict the family. Sanders said that they may also face tampering with evidence charges.

The defendants remain jailed on $50,000 bond.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher