Brush Prairie man accused of letting father die

Decomposed body was found inside suspect's van

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A Brush Prairie man is accused of manslaughter after allegedly letting his elderly father die of malnutrition and leaving the body to decompose as he drained the dead man’s bank account.

Ronald Ahlquist, 45, appeared Friday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of second-degree manslaughter, first-degree criminal mistreatment, second-degree identity theft and second-degree theft.

Judge Barbara Johnson held him in lieu of $750,000 bail and appointed Vancouver attorney Anthony Lowe to defend him. Ahlquist is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges June 6.

Ahlquist’s friend Keith Runyan reported the death of Norman Ahlquist on Oct. 7, 2013, after Ronald Ahlquist called him and requested help transporting the body to the coroner’s office, according to court records.

When Clark County sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found Norman Ahlquist’s heavily decomposed body inside Ronald Ahlquist’s van, sheriff’s Detective Ken Harper wrote in a court affidavit.

The 75-year-old man died of malnutrition, but dementia and neglect were underlying contributors, according to autopsy results. He weighed 85 pounds at the time of the autopsy, Harper wrote. Sheriff’s investigators estimated that he had been dead possibly since late September.

Before and after his father’s death, Ronald Ahlquist withdrew money for his personal use from his father’s bank account, where his father’s Social Security benefits were automatically deposited each month, and used his debit card for alcohol and cigarette purchases, according to court records.

He also continued to collect supplemental food benefits for his father from the Department of Social and Health Services, court records say.

Ronald Ahlquist had been his father’s caretaker since 2009 and received money for caring for his father between 2009 and 2010. The pay was discontinued when Ronald Ahlquist failed to take required training classes, court records say.