The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 14, 2013

Woman gets prison in abandoned mother’s death


Associated Press

LANCASTER — A south-central Pennsylvania woman will spend six to 12 years in prison for allegedly leaving her bedridden 88-year-old woman alone to die, though the defendant says it was a mercy killing.

The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era reports 67-year-old Janice Harmes was sentenced Thursday by a Lancaster County judge, after pleading no contest to a charge of third-degree murder.

Authorities say Harmes took Janet Bastendorf’s cellphone – her mother’s only link to the outside world – then left the woman alone without food or water for 10 days before she died on Jan. 6 of an infection.

Harmes tells the judge that she and her mother “had an understanding” that the woman wanted to die at home, not in a hospital. But the judge rejected that explanation calling it “inexcusable and reprehensible.”