Michigan woman charged after father catches on fire, dies due to unsupervised candles amid power outage

89-year-old man died on Nov. 18, 2022

Police tape at a crime scene. (WDIV)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Michigan woman was charged with adult abuse after her father, who was left unsupervised around lit candles, caught on fire and died from his injuries two days later.

Ronald Krueger Sr., 89, who had dementia, suffered from third-degree burns over his body. Officials say that 40% of his body sustained these burns after being caught on fire.

WOOD, an NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, reported that the fire happened in the fall of 2022 at the 89-year-old man’s home in Kent County. The Grand Rapids station stated that the Michigan man’s daughter Kendra Krueger called 911 around 4:30 a.m. to report the fire on Nov. 16, 2022.

After an investigation by Adult Protective Services, Kendra Krueger was charged with second-degree vulnerable adult abuse.

Officials say that the reason why there were unsupervised candles was due to a power outage in the neighborhood where the Kruegers were living. WOOD reported that a deputy said Kendra Krueger woke up to screams from the kitchen within the home, and found her father lying on the floor with his lower torso on fire.

The deputy also said in their report that Kendra Krueger jumped onto her father’s back and tried to put out the fire with her bare hands. According to a sheriff’s report, Ronald had limited mobility and was residing in the living room, sleeping on either the couch or in his wheelchair.

A complaint charging vulnerable adult abuse against Kendra Krueger stated that leaving candles lit around a person with dementia and no supervision is felony worthy.

The Grand Rapids station reported that there were reports of the Kent County home being in complete disarray. According to WOOD, Kent County Sheriff’s Office reported during a home observation that there were dirty old dishes with molded food stacked and covering the counter and stove, with the sink full of plates. There was also reportedly dirty cups in the basement with mold, a strong odor of urine coming from the couch, rotten food in the freezer and refrigerator, burnt candles in the kitchen and living room and no clean diapers.

It is reported that law enforcement also found drug paraphernalia in one of the bedrooms. According to a report made by the 6th circuit court, Kendra Krueger was arrested in the summer of 2010 after obtaining a package from San Diego that held 54.3 grams of methamphetamine.

WOOD reported that a sheriff’s report initially requested a charge of fourth-degree vulnerable adult abuse, which is considered a misdemeanor. The request was denied, and Kendra Krueger has been charged with second-degree, a felony that can be punishable by up to four years in prison.

Abuse can happen to any older person, whether by a loved one, caregiver or even a stranger. Several types of abuse include abandonment, emotional, financial, neglect, physical and sexual.

Below are some signs of abuse to watch out for, courtesy of the National Institute on Aging:

  • Stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys.
  • Looks messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes.
  • Has trouble sleeping.
  • Loses weight for no reason.
  • Becomes withdrawn or acts agitated or violent.
  • Displays signs of trauma, like rocking back and forth.
  • Has unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, or scars.
  • Has broken eyeglasses/frames, or physical signs of punishment or being restrained.
  • Develops bed sores or other preventable conditions.
  • Lacks medical aids (glasses, walker, dentures, hearing aid, medications).
  • Has an eviction notice for unpaid rent, notice of late mortgage, or home eviction.
  • Has hazardous, unsafe, or unclean living conditions.
  • Displays signs of insufficient care or unpaid bills despite adequate financial resources.

According to NIA, about one in ten adults over the age of 60 experience some elder abuse. If you think someone is in urgent danger, please call local police enforcement or 911.

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