BELFAST — A Winterport man has been indicted for endangering the welfare of a dependent person after Waldo County Sheriff’s deputies discovered an elderly man strapped to his couch following a request for a welfare check.
Michael K. Underhill was indicted by a Waldo County Grand Jury Sept. 19, after authorities traveled to Underhill’s residence in Winterport.
According to an investigation affidavit filed by Waldo County Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Jackson, law enforcement traveled to the home after a referral from the District Attorney’s Office that reportedly an elderly man was “being tied to a chair and was sitting in his feces and urine.” It is unclear who made the initial complaint.
When Jackson traveled to the residence, on School House Road, he found the elderly man in question laying on the couch in a T-shirt and boxer briefs. The affidavit states that his legs were bare and several abrasions on his arms and legs that had begun to heal were visible. He had soiled himself and was wet from urine.
After explaining to the man why he was there, Deputy Jackson inquired whether anyone else had been there that morning. The man reportedly said no and when asked when the last time he had eaten was, the man responded it was about a week prior.
An ambulance was called to the scene, with Jackson exiting while the exam took place. He was called back into the home by an ambulance driver.
Upon reentering the home Jackson saw that EMTs had removed the blankets and revealed a red rope tied around the victim’s legs, with a towel underneath the rope for padding.
“There was also a yellow ratchet strap coming up through the couch and appeared to be wrapped around his waist,” the affidavit states. After taking several photographs EMTs continued their work.
Deputy Jackson called Detective Sergeant Merle Reed to apprise him of the situation.
When Underhill returned home, he reportedly explained to Jackson that he had left the home around noon to go grocery shopping.
He reportedly stated that a doctor had instructed him to keep the elderly man’s legs elevated and that his legs were tied to ensure they would stay up, otherwise his legs would reportedly fall and he would be unable to return them to a raised position. Underhill also mentioned the ratcheting strap unprompted, saying he attached it to the couch to support the ropes. Underhill stated he had fed the elderly man canned oysters that morning and a can of oysters was on the counter by the sink.
Jackson discussed trying to attain some home health care services for the man, to allow him to take breaks from caregiving.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org