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Parents charged with murder of autistic daughter who died 'fused' to sofa after 12 years
3 May 2022, 12:25 | Updated: 5 May 2022, 06:16
The parents of a severely autistic woman, who died "fused" to a sofa by her own excrement after spending 12 years on the couch, have been charged with second-degree murder.
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Lacey Ellen Fletcher, 36, was found dead at home in Slaughter, Louisiana, in what a coroner described as a scene like a “horror movie”.
Her parents, Sheila, 64 and Clay Fletcher, 65, were indicted by the grand jury on Monday, over the death of Ms Fletcher, who suffered from locked-in syndrome.
Locked-in syndrome is a rare neurological disorder where there is complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles except for the ones that control the movements of the eyes.
Those with locked-in syndrome are conscious and awake, but have no ability to produce movements or to speak.
When she was found by officers on January 3 , Ms Fletcher was partially clothed, sitting upright but sunk down into the sofa, which was soaked in human waste.
She was covered in insect bites and surrounded by insects and rodent droppings, a coroner told DailyMail.com.
Her parents called 911 because Ms Fletcher wasn't breathing, prosecutors said.
The parents were supposed to be the girl's care providers, but the coroner said she had not been to a doctor in 20 years.
Her death has been ruled a homicide and the “cause behind her death stems from at least a decade of medical neglect”, Dr Bickham said.
Dr Bickham revealed that Lacey had been on the couch for at least 12 years.
The grand jury’s decision to charge the parents came as East Feliciana Sheriff Jeffery Travis told the Daily Mail that "intervention should have happened a long time before this tragedy".
"You can’t just let someone rot away," Travis said.
"It is difficult to imagine how someone could get in that condition without family or friends stepping in. Believe me, there would have been help available."
Neighbours of the couple said they were not aware they had a daughter and described them as "pillars of the community", according to the DailyMail.com.
They initially were not arrested because they were not considered at risk of fleeing. The Fletchers were arrested on Monday afternoon.
Outside the court, District Attorney D'Aquilla said: "I believe justice was served here today. Lacey Fletcher didn't deserve the way she was treated.
"For this type of crime… second degree is the highest charge that could have been produced today."
Their trial date has not been set yet.