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Queens woman looked out for her sons — and when she died, one with autism didn’t know how to survive without her
The New York Daily News - 3/26/2021
A 75-year-old woman found dead in her Queens apartment alongside her autistic 46-year-old son was a “remarkable woman” who always put her sons before herself, her surviving son said Friday.
“They were both magnificent people, and I’m going to miss them dearly,” said Leroy Gibbs, 51, who lives in Georgia.
His mother, Claudia Gibbs, and brother, Doyle Gibbs, were found dead after neighbors complained of an odor coming from their Astoria Houses home.
Claudia Gibbs was dead in her bed, and Doyle Gibbs was found dead on a hallway floor. Neither had been seen by neighbors for more than a month.
“You know that you will lose a parent, but I lost them both at the same time,” said Leroy Gibbs. “Doyle was young. He was only 46. I’m the older brother.”
Investigators believe both died of natural causes.
Both bodies were badly decomposed. The mom died first, and her autistic son died some time later after he was unable to take care of himself, law enforcement sources have said.
He didn’t believe his mother had any physical ailments, but suspects a fire in the apartment next door affected her somehow.
Claudia Gibbs was the kind of mom who “would let you eat first and then eat the scraps,” her son said.
“She was a sweet person,” Gibbs said. “She was warm, loving, caring, giving. She was just a remarkable woman.”
His brother was put on medication when he was younger that had an ill effect — but his form of autism didn’t prevent him from being verbal, said Gibbs.
“He was put on Ritalin and it changed his personality,” Gibbs said. “He was a great guy. He didn’t know what to do in that situation where somebody he loved died.”
Claudia Gibbs had once worked for TWA, the airline, as a kitchen worker, her surviving son said.
Gibbs said he was waiting to learn the cause of his mom’s death.
“I hate that I’m here in Georgia, and they were there,” said Gibbs.
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