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A Louisiana prosecutor says he will ask a grand jury to hand up a murder indictment against the parents of a 36-year-old woman found dead in January, sunk into a hole she’d worn in a couch she hadn’t moved from, possibly in years.
East Feliciana Parish District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla told NOLA.com that recluse Lacey Ellen Fletcher had severe sores on her underside and fecal matter smushed onto her face, abdomen, and chest. Her hair, he said, was matted and filled with maggots.
Photos of the sores appeared “rotten to the bone,” he said.
The parish coroner, Ewell Bickham III, ruled Fletcher’s death a homicide, saying she died of “severe chronic neglect,” D’Aquilla said. Fletcher weighed just 96 pounds at the time of death and was positive for COVID-19, he said.
“The question on everybody’s mind is, how could they be caretakers living in the house with her and have her get in a condition like that?” D’Aquilla said. “It’s cruelty to the infirm. We can’t just let it sit.”
It wasn’t clear, he said, how long it had been since Lacey left the living room or since the last time anyone other than her parents had seen her.
Fletcher’s parents — 64-year-old former Zachary city alderman Sheila Fletcher and Clay Fletcher — said in an interview about two weeks after their daughter’s death that she was autistic and had “some degree of Asperger’s syndrome” but had been “of sound mind to make her own type of decisions” until she died, D’Aquila said.
She attended school through the 9th grade, when she entered a home-school program, the parents said, and experience extreme social anxiety as a teen. She met with a psychologist for three years and saw a doctor years later in her 20s, the parents said, but not after.
Sheila and Clay Fletcher said their daughter parked in the living room and wouldn’t leave, so they brought her meals and set up a potty that she didn’t use. Instead, she relieved herself in the hole she’d worn in the couch.
“The caretakers just let her sit on the couch. She just urinated and used the bathroom on the couch,” D’Aquilla said. “It was so horrific.”
The DA said the parents considered committing her to a medical facility at one point, but the daughter didn’t want to, so they dropped the matter.
“I don’t think they (did) anything after that,” D’Aquilla said. “I think if somebody would have seen her that something would have been done.”
The Fletchers told detectives that Lacey never complained about the sores she had and that her mother regularly cleaned them.
The parents said their daughter had begun eating less in the fall. On the night before her death, her mother said she ate half a sandwich and some Cheetos. Sheila Fletcher — who resigned as a Zachary alderman three weeks after her daughter’s death — fell asleep on a chair in the living room about 10 p.m., when Lacey was alive, but she had died when she woke up the next morning.
She called 911, and deputies arrived, noting a strong smell from the living room.
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[Featured image: Lacey Ellen Fletcher/obituary photo]
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