Severely Autistic Boy’s Remains Go Unclaimed And I’m Starting To Despise His Mother (UPDATE)

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tutko-home-harrisburgYou might remember Jarrod Tutko, Jr. from the heartbreaking story back in August about him: the severely autistic boy was dead for days in his feces-smeared Harrisburg home before his father rolled his body in a sheet and presented it to his mother, who hadn’t seen the child for years prior to his death.

Well, his story just got a lot sadder. According to PennLive, the boy’s remains will be cremated and interred in Potter’s Field because no one came to claim his remains:

Per state law, Hetrick said the coroner’s office is supposed to cremate or bury an unclaimed body within 10 days. And after speaking with Kimberly Tutko shortly after receiving her son’s body early last month, Hetrick said he didn’t hear from her for at least 19 days. That’s when he said he decided to cremate the boy’s remains

Hetrick said when he did speak with her, it seemed as though Kimberly Tutko was experiencing financial troubles and was unsure whether she could afford to bury her son’s remains. He said he recommended two agencies she could contact for burial assistance. But he said he never heard back from her.

“I don’t know what happened. We had trouble getting back in contact with her,” Hetrick said during a Monday afternoon press conference on an unrelated Harrisburg homicide that occurred early Saturday morning. “I don’t know if she herself is ill, and I had to make some decision.”

I will admit that I was willing to give Kimberly Tutko the benefit of the doubt when I first heard about this story. After all, I have no idea what it is like to raise as many sick children as she did with virtually no money. But the more I hear about this entire ordeal, the more I find myself growing angry with her apathy.

Because it does strike me as incredibly apathetic. The child lived in filth. He died unnoticed, and now he will be interred in anonymity. The coroner in this case seems like a pretty decent guy; he even says that he was under the impression that the Tutkos were out of resources, and referred Mrs. Tutko to agencies that could help defray the cost of burying her son, which was met with complete silence.

It’s taken this long for the remains to be released because the Tutko case is so complicated; last month the autopsy showed that starvation and dehydration played a major role in Jarrod’s death, but it is difficult to tell whether these factors were caused by neglect or related to his Fragile X.

Jarrod Tutko Sr. has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, the concealment of a child’s death and abuse of a corpse.

This entire case makes me incredibly sad. I can’t imagine raising a child that needed such care, but that’s an easier leap to make for me than imagining leaving such a child to rot in a disgusting room and then allowing him to be buried alongside other unclaimed bodies.

Too bad you can’t charge people for being despicable, because that’s what kind of person it takes to do this.

UPDATE: Anonymous donors have stepped in to buy a plot and headstone.

(Image: Facebook)


  1. Jen TheTit Whipper

    September 9, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I’m going to be that asshole: I feel for her that her son died, but I don’t see how she could live in the same home as him and not see him for years. Something isn’t sitting right about all of this.

    • LiteBrite(UterineDudebro)

      September 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      I agree. And as much I want to call Tutko despicable, I can’t quite yet because I feel like there is so much more to this story that we’re not hearing.

      But no matter, I think the whole story is atrocious and heartbreaking.

    • whiteroses

      September 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Exactly. She didn’t see him for what, four solid years? Nothing about that has ever sat well with me. You’d have to be deliberately blind to avoid even asking about one of your children for four years.

    • blh

      September 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      I don’t even for bad for her in that respect. She hadn’t seen him in years, she clearly didn’t care about him. I feel bad for him and the other kids.

    • Alicia

      September 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      His death was declared a homicide. He starved to death. His father was arrested for hiding the death. IMO, BOTH of them should be arrested for his murder. They are his parents, and therefore were responsible for providing him with food. PERIOD.

    • Rachel Sea

      September 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Why she never saw him has never been explained. Maybe the father had some sick hold over the situation, maybe she abdicated all love when she abdicated responsibility for care to his father. Maybe one or both of them is so bereft of coping skills that they are mentally ill. Maybe she feels like she doesn’t deserve to claim his body since she didn’t parent him in life.

      This is the scary side of homeschooling and home care. If those kids had gone to school, there would have been at least 4 other people aware of their conditions.

    • Jen TheTit Whipper

      September 10, 2014 at 8:05 am

      The whole thing makes me sick. I never heard what happened to the other kids. Are they still in the home? Has anyone else heard/read?

    • alexesq33

      September 10, 2014 at 10:14 am

      I feel the same way. Hope CPS has stepped in at this point – whatever is going on in the home is clearly rising to criminal in nature – I just hope that if SHE is an abused (emotionally, physically) spouse that she gets the help she needs.

  2. keelhaulrose

    September 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Seriously? In the days of the crowdfunded potato salad you couldn’t at least make an attempt to get some money together to give your child a funeral of sorts?
    I guess it’s hard to give much of a shit about that sort of thing when you haven’t seen said child in years.
    I seriously don’t have sympathy for that woman at all. I get her other child was extremely ill, but that does not excuse the level of neglect that her son experienced before he died. If you’re in over your head there is no excuse not to seek help in this day and age.

    • whiteroses

      September 9, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      She was given resources- I have a hard time feeling sympathy. I doubt we’ll ever know the full story, but good God, you can’t tell me she didn’t have the slightest bit of curiosity about one of her children.

      As terrible as it sounds, Jarrod Is probably better off.

  3. Véronique the Attachment Shark

    September 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    nope. no sympathy. she chose to spend all of her time with a child in a vegetative state, and neglected to take care of all of her other special needs children to the point that one of them died in filth and squallor. and then she neglects to even pick up the body? nope, nope, nope.

  4. aCongaLine

    September 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I generally believe that apathy is the complete opposite of love, in many cases. Here, I’d like to believe instead that this mother’s apathy is a symptom of her being at, or over, her breaking point. There’s definitely something more horrible/sad/awful, that hasn’t been reported, going on.

    I hope the other kids are safe, clean, fed, cared for, and feel loved.

    How awful.

    • NotTakenNotAvailableWTFDisqus

      September 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      I know I really shouldn’t judge, especially since part of my desire for permanent sterilization stems from knowing I do not have what it takes to raise one or more special needs child(ren), but I can’t help in this case. I agree that this woman may well have been pushed to or beyond her limits, but if so, the onus was on her to ask for help, especially when there were so many helpless lives involved. I really hope that her other children are indeed getting the care they need now.

    • aCongaLine

      September 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      absolutely agreed. It’s a terrible situation when “maybe Mom is having a total break down?” is the best case scenario. I really hope those kids have lots of love and their needs are all meet.

      ugh. my heart breaks for each and everyone of those kids. I hope they are all in the best of hands.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 9, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      I completely agree that if nothing else, this tragedy at least got the rest of the kids put into loving homes.

  5. Rachel Sea

    September 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I don’t think we’ll ever know the half of the fucked-upedness of that family. There is something huge that isn’t public, or none of it makes sense. You don’t go without seeing your cohabiting child for years unless Shit is Up.

  6. Heather

    September 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    The situation is all kinds of messed up.

    I’d like to say, though, that in my experience when my estranged mother died, the “resources” to help cover the cost of cremation/burial/whatever, were seriously screwed up. The application process alone was long and involved. It wasn’t worth it.

    • NotTakenNotAvailableWTFDisqus

      September 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      I think if this woman had given half a shit about her kid, though, she would have dealt with the application process. I can see why you wouldn’t bother if it was an estranged family member (don’t know why you were estranged from your mother, don’t need to know–whatever your reasons, they are perfectly valid), but a child that you claimed to love in spite of not having seen him in four years (!!!!)? THAT doesn’t sit right with me.

  7. Shelly Lloyd

    September 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Somehow I missed that story when you first wrote about it….now I am profoundly sorry that I read it. I am going to go hug my son for several minutes until he complains. And then I’m going to go weep. For real.

  8. Alicia

    September 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I was just about to update you. As soon as the news hit locally yesterday, people got together and started getting this child the burial he deserved. ABC27, the Harrisburg affiliate posted an article on their Facebook page, and within a couple of hours, several hundred people were commenting, and the donations started.

    I truly hope CYS is investigating this woman. There is no reason that she couldn’t claim her son’s remains.

  9. NotTakenNotAvailableWTFDisqus

    September 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I really kept hoping that the update on this story was going to be that it was some kind of Onion-style news prank gone horribly, horribly wrong. But no. It somehow keeps getting worse, and I can’t fathom how this fucked-up situation was allowed to keep going for as long as it did.

  10. Lauren Victoria

    September 9, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    This is absolutely heartbreaking.

  11. givemeyourking .

    September 13, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    He’s dead. He’s better off. Enough wasted anger over this.

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