Death by poverty

From Lubbock, Texas via local TV station KCBD TV, the end of a mystery proves that you don’t have to live in New Orleans to risk death by lack of funds.

Unpaid Utility Bills May Have Led to Couple’s Death

The Lubbock Medical Examiner said Alfredo and Adita Quiroz both died of “accidental hypothermia.” The two were found dead inside their Central Lubbock home Monday night. NewsChannel 11’s Kealey McIntire has been following this story and has the latest:

Tuesday police returned to the neighborhood to conduct follow up investigations. Mail that was still in the mailbox indicates the Quirozes may have died January 4th. Family members tell NewsChannel 11 nobody had contacted Alfredo and Adita for about a month. The couple was having financial problems. They had no power, gas or water in their house. The last time they paid an LP&L bill was May 6th. Their water was turned off August 8th and their electricity was disconnected October 4th. Atmos disconnected their gas October 4th.

Atmos officials said records indicate someone tried to obtain the couple’s account information in order to help pay the bill, however without the couple’s consent Atmos cannot give out account information.

Lubbock Police Public Information officer Lt. Roy Bassett said, “From what we’re hearing, apparently he was a very proud man, a very proud couple and not one to go out and ask for help and unfortunately in this case, it appears that it proved to be fatal.”

Police said Adita, 87, was found in the bed and Alfredo, 76, was on the floor next to the bed. They were fully clothed, but not wearing coats or covered with blankets. Family members said the couple was married for over 50 years, they had no children and their closest relatives in Lubbock are nieces and nephews. Police say they will not file any charges as they suspect no foul play. Atmos officials tell NewsChannel 11 it’s an unfortunate incident and anyone facing financial difficulties should contact them to try to work something out.

In America, lack of money is a capital crime. This couple had a car and a home. They were not on welfare. They were not in trouble with the law. They were elderly, and they were broke.

They were expendable, in short — and I suspect they are not the last who will meet a similar fate.