Neglect cited in mother's death
Detective notes that author Gayl Jones' mother may have suffered malnutrition.
FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
While author Gayl Jones and her husband accused officials in Lexington, Ky., of a conspiracy to kill Jones' ailing mother, a detective wrote in police documents that family negligence may have been a factor in the death.
Jones' husband, Bob Higgins, died after slashing his own throat in a Feb. 20 standoff with Lexington police. In the preceding months, he had sent letters accusing officials around Lexington of a vast conspiracy.
The letters began after the former University of Michigan English professor's mother, Lucille Jones, died March 20, 1997, at her home. She had been discharged from the University of Kentucky hospital at the couple's insistence.
A Lexington police detective wrote in a May 1997 memorandum that Jones and Higgins may have been criminally responsible for Lucille Jones' death.
Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson, however, concluded that a case against the couple was not strong enough to try criminally and thought the dispute would be best resolved in civil court, police records show.
Lucille Jones, who was 72, had throat cancer and was undergoing radiation therapy. She was admitted to UK Hospital on Feb. 24, 1997, after missing several radiation treatments and losing 20 pounds, records show.
Later, she was discharged at the insistence of Jones and Higgins, who accused local and state authorities of covering up the hospital's alleged responsibility for the death. Higgins was using the name Bob Jones in the letters.
Meanwhile, a Newsweek article profiling the reclusive Gayl Jones and her new book "The Healing," led police to Bob Jones' real name and a criminal record in his past.
Gayl Jones remains hospitalized at Eastern State Hospital, relatives and neighbors told the Lexington Herald-Leader. She was taken to the psychiatric hospital after threatening suicide during the standoff, police said.
The Feb. 20 standoff with police began when police attempted to serve Higgins with an outstanding warrant from Ann Arbor. In 1983, Higgins disrupted a gay rights rally at the federal building, and was convicted of "assault with intent to frighten” when he returned to the rally and sat across the street in a car with a gun.
The couple fled the country but later returned to Lexington to tend to Jones' ailing mother.
In a May 1997 investigation into Lucille Jones' death, Detective James Curless suggested in a memo that the couple should have taken her to the hospital sooner. At the time of her emergency admission, she weighed 68 pounds, 23 pounds less than normal. Curless called malnutrition a "significant contributing factor" in the death.
He wrote, “It becomes apparent that the caretakers could be criminally responsible for the death."
Dr. Nicholas Kouns, who treated Lucille Jones and was one of the doctors accused by the family of misconduct, told police the family seemed partly responsible for the death, according to police records.
Investigations by police and the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure found no wrongdoing by medical personnel
Neglect cited in mother's death