Father-son duo charged with death in insurance fraud scheme

Philadelphia District Attorney's Office

A crime described by the district attorney as “just pure evil” has landed a father and son in jail for allegedly poisoning the frail patriarch of their family with methadone pills in order to cash in on a hefty – and fraudulent – life insurance policy, District Attorney Seth Williams announced Thursday.

According to a presentment handed down Thursday, the father and son duo of Edward R. and Edward A. Kirby killed an ill family member so they could reap the rewards of 10 fraudulently obtained insurance policies.

The Kirbys are charged with drug delivery resulting in death, criminal conspiracy, criminal homicide, 23 counts of insurance fraud, 13 counts of identifty theft, five counts of theft by deception and 34 counts of forgery.

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“They killed him not with a gun, not with a knife, but with pills. Their actions are deplorable, and they deserve nothing short of the maximum punishment that the laws will allow,” said Williams.

Court papers show that the Kirbys hatched the plot sometime in 2013 when they realized the victim, George Kirby, was essentially home-bound and had developed a tolerance and addictive craving for strong medications. He reportedly had a history of drug abuse. Medical records show George Kirby, 67, was being treated for pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a heart condition. He was on oxygen 24-hours a day and rarely left his home in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, where he was living at the time with his 84-year old caretaker aunt.

George’s son, Edward R. Kirby, 60, also reportedly had a history of drug abuse. For some time, his son, Edward A. Kirby, had fraudulently obtained 10 life insurance policies under the guise of George Kirby so he could collect more than $100,000 in benefits. Williams said he would submit insurance policy applications, falsify documents and forge signatures and use an IP Relay System over the Internet, which is designed for those who are speech and hearing impaired, so that the person on the other end could not recognize his 35-year old voice.

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One day in the month before George Kirby died, during a three-way phone conversation between Edward R. Kirby, Edward A. Kirby and Nicholas Kirby, George Kirby’s son, Edward R. Kirby thought Nicholas had hung up. Instead, Nicholas reportedly overheard the following:

“Go down there and kill him. Make it look like an accident. Just put a pillow over him and smother him…the quicker you do this, the quicker we can get the money,” Edward A. Kirby allegedly said.

That’s when Nicholas Kirby called the cops.

Williams said that one month later, Edward R. Kirby delivered a bottle of 50 methadone pills to George Kirby, and one way or another, George ingested them, and was found dead the next day.

“We don’t know if they chopped it up and put it in his food or if they just put it next to him,” said Williams.

“We do know that George Kirby had no way to get out of the home to get the methadone pills.”

Preliminary hearings for Edward R. Kirby and Edward A. Kirby have yet to be scheduled.

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