STILLWATER, Okla. — Charges have been filed against a 36-year-old Stillwater woman who was arrested for abandoning her blind, diabetic husband, whose decaying body was discovered Nov. 19 at their mobile home in rural Stillwater.
Jennifer Lynn Denton currently faces four felony charges – neglect by caretaker, financial neglect by caretaker and two counts of animal cruelty, each one accounting for the death of 49-year-old Wade Denton's dogs. She is being held on $40,000 bond in Payne County Jail and is scheduled to appear again in court at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.
If convicted, Denton faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine for the charge of neglect by caretaker, as well as for financial neglect by caretaker. Each count of animal cruelty carries either a maximum five-year prison sentence, a maximum one-year stint in Payne County Jail or up to a $5,000 fine. Conviction on either of the first two counts would also subject Denton to registering under the Elderly and Incapacitated Victim's Protection Act.
Investigator Rockford Brown of Payne County Sheriff's Office told the News Press that a more serious charge against Denton could occur if the state medical examiner's officer determines that Wade died due to Denton's neglect.
“As of this point, we have no (indication) of foul play from the medical examiner," Brown said. "There’s no trauma to the body that they were able to determine … we might be able to determine, at a later point, a more specific and official cause of death. But at this point, we don’t know what it is. If we can prove, as the result of her neglecting him, he died as a result of that, it can potentially turn into a homicide."
According to the affidavit Brown filed in the investigation, medical examiner Rory Garien determined Wade's body was extremely dry and had been partially consumed by one or both of the dogs, and Brown told the News Press the skin had a "dried, leather appearance." He also said that a medical diagnosis determined Wade, who was diabetic, was declared completely blind in one eye and suffered from 90-percent blindness in the other as of 2008. Wade and Denton were married in 2010, and Denton and family members told Brown that Wade was completely blind at the time of his death.
When initially contacted, Denton reportedly told investigators that she had stopped living with Wade in the spring of 2017 and arranged for a friend of theirs to care for him – that man told investigators he had neither seen nor heard from the couple for nearly three years. Denton later confessed to never contacting the friend to care for Wade and never made any other arrangements for his care.
The affidavit reads that during an interview Dec. 28 at Denton's attorney's office in Sayer, she told Brown and OSBI Special Agent Dannie Sanders that she was Wade's sole caregiver – she was the only one to bring him food, water and dog food for his two dogs, a Great Pyrenees named Daniel and a hound named Duke. Brown said Wade was unable to get food or water for himself unless it was already at the residence, he had not owned a cellphone for nearly two years and was unable to navigate over to his neighbor's house.
Denton told investigators that "she would never leave him alone for more than a few hours" and that she paid all the bills, which would have kept the well water running as well as heat and air. However, Denton also said the well had stopped working in about September 2016, so there was no access to fresh, running water.
Denton also confessed to using Wade's Social Security income, which included his deposit of $1,120 in November. Brown confirmed that as of Monday, the account's balance was $0.35. Denton told investigators she used part of Wade's Social Security income to pay for Kilburn's cellphone bill as far back as February 2017.
Brown said he's not sure whether Denton's last point of contact with her husband was March 3 or through July 4 based on the interview – according to Denton's boyfriend, Kenneth Kilburn, after she left the residence in March he and Denton began to live in her Ford Edge and "he went wherever the car went," according to the affidavit. Denton said that she would return every 2-3 days with Kilburn accompanying her so she could check on Wade.
Kilburn told Brown that he asked Denton each month whether Wade was still OK with her spending his money and whether she had made arrangements for his care. According to the affidavit, Denton would tell Kilburn "that it was fine and everything was taken care of and that Wade's friend was supposed to take care of him."