Watch: Parents could face charges in death of Louisiana woman found in couch
Clay and Sheila Fletcher were arrested and indicted on Monday, four months after their 36-year-old daughter Lacey’s emaciated body was found fused to the couch at their home in the town of Slaughter.
Lacey was semi-naked and sitting upright in a sunken crevice in the sofa when she was found by a police officer, District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said.
She weighed just 96 pounds (43 kgs) and was covered in urine, faces and maggots.
East Feliciana Parish coroner Ewell Bickham believes she could have been sitting in the same position for as long as 12 years, The Advocate reported. She also tested positive for Covid-19.
Lacey had been homeschooled since high school, suffered social anxiety as a teenager, and had a severe case of Asperger’s, Mr D’Aquila said.
Police officers were notified of Lacey’s death when her mother called 911 on 3 January.
On reaching the house, deputies found a “strong stench” emanating. Fletcher’s body was surrounded by faeces and urine, and there were severe ulcers on the body’s underside.
Coroner Dr Bickham ruled her death a homicide and the “cause behind her death stems from at least a decade of medical neglect”.
“The scene was sickening. I’ve seen some horrible things in my life but nothing like this,” he told DailyMail.com.
He told WBRZ he couldn’t eat and cried for a week after attending the death.
Calling it a horrific episode, Mr D’Aquilla said: “The caretakers just let her sit on the couch. She just urinated and used the bathroom on the couch.”
The underside of Lacey’s body was covered in ulcers, and appeared “rotten to the bone,” the district attorney said.
She appeared to have faeces shoved in her face, chest and stomach, he added.
“On a murder, you have to have intent,” Mr D’Aquilla said. “Did they want to kill her? I want to say yeah, they wanted to kill her.”
A grand jury handed down an indictment for second-degree murder on Monday.
Sheila and Clay Fletcher were longtime residents of Slaughter, a town 20 miles (36kms) north of Baton Rouge. Sheila had worked as a town alderman, but resigned her post in February after her daughter’s death.
The parents’s attorney Steven Moore said they didn’t want to “relive the pain of losing a child through the media” in a statement to WBRZ before they were charged with murder.
“They have been through a lot of heartache over the years. Anyone who had lost a child knows what it’s like.”
Disability advocates said it appeared to be a clear case of criminal neglect.