SHENANDOAH — Roberta Tutko started shaking when she heard the news.
She had seen a story on television about a man in Harrisburg accused of hiding his 8-year-old son’s corpse for days after the child’s death.
But she didn’t realize the accused man, was in fact her cousin Jarrod Tutko Sr.
“Just seen it on the news this morning. They said they found a little boy dead and he was dead a couple of days, and I didn’t put two and two together,” Roberta Tutko said.
She says Jarrod Tutko Sr. had always been a “nice kid,” friendly, and good about visiting. She says Tutko had lived in several different parts of Shenandoah. His parents currently live in a senior housing tower in Mahanoy City. She recalls that, at one point, social services took custody of his then-girlfriend’s kids, but believes that the family had been reunited when they moved.
Tutko Sr. is behind bars in Dauphin County, charged with several criminal counts including abuse of a corpse.
His wife Kimberly Tutko says she didn’t realize her son was dead until she smelled something festering in the home. She says that, on Friday night, her husband broke the news to her that their son had been dead for days.
“He brought his body down. It was in a sheet. When he opened it up, I could tell it was more than a few hours,” she said.
She says that the couple had several children with special needs, and while she focused on her daughter, her husband was the primary caregiver for Jarrod Tutko Jr., who had severe mental disabilities.
Back in Schuylkill County, relatives tried to make sense of what happened.
“I pray he is an angel in heaven and may God have mercy on his soul. How could you be so heartless? We take better care of animals than we do children,” Mary Ellen Tutko said.
The family’s remaining children have been removed from the home in Harrisburg by authorities. An autopsy is planned for sometime this week as part of the investigation.