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Son and girlfriend face murder charges after father wasted away in ‘deplorable conditions’ without medical treatment: Police

Jacob J.R. Schaper and Jocelyn Grisham (West Des Moines Police Department)

Jacob J.R. Schaper and Jocelyn Grisham (West Des Moines Police Department)

An Iowa man and his girlfriend were arrested for allegedly failing to care for the man’s father and his medical needs to such a degree that the elder man died in “deplorable conditions,” authorities say.

Jacob J.R. Schaper, 24, and Jocelyn Grisham, 23, were taken into custody on Tuesday morning and charged with one count each of second-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Steven Schaper, online jail records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

The arrests came after WDPD detectives conducted a multi-month investigation into Steven’s death that began in the summer of 2022.

According to a press release from the West Des Moines Police Department, officers at approximately 1:06 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2022, responded to an emergency call at a residence located in the 200 block of 1st Street. The caller reported that a male resident was experiencing a medical emergency. Firefighters with the West Des Moines Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel were also dispatched to the home.

Upon arriving at the scene, police say first responders located Steven Schaper, who was suffering from “multiple medical issues and living in deplorable conditions.” EMS transported the elder Schaper to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Police said that detectives “immediately” launched an investigation into the circumstances of Steven’s death due to his “medical ailments and the poor living conditions witnessed in the residence.”

Following the completion of a nearly six-month long investigation, detectives said that they had obtained evidence indicating that Steven’s caretakers — identified as Schaper and Grisham — “intentionally or recklessly denied him adequate medical care and living conditions, which resulted in his death.”

A copy of the criminal complaint obtained by the Des Moines Register provided additional details about the nature of Steven’s condition and the circumstances of his death.

The complaint reportedly said that Schaper and Grisham “assumed the roles” of his father’s caretaker because his condition required “continuous care,” as he could not get out of bed nor could he feed or bath himself. Additionally, first responders said that when they found Steven, he was wearing a soiled diaper and laying in a bed soaked with feces and urine. He also had multiple visible bed sores, police said.

A subsequent autopsy reportedly determined that Steven’s cause of death was “polymicrobial sepsis, osteomyelitis, iliopsoas abscess, pneumonia and endocarditis,” per the Register.

Following their arrests, Schaper and Grisham were both transported and booked into the Polk County Jail where they are currently being held without bond.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.