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Louisiana Autistic Woman Found Dead, Covered In Maggots And Feces, On Parents' Couch

Sheila and Clay Fletcher face a grand jury investigation in the death of their adult daughter, Lacey Fletcher, who they said was autistic. The coroner ruled her death a homicide as the result of neglect and pressed for charges in the horrific case.

By Gina Tron
Photo of a Decrepit House's Living Room

Two parents face may murder charges after their adult daughter’s remains were found in their living room couch.

In what police said one of the worst-ever cases of alleged neglect in the area, Lacey Fletcher, 36, was found dead at the Slaughter, Louisiana home of her parents, Sheila and Clay Fletcher, on Jan. 3, WBRZ reports.

Her body allegedly showed severe signs of neglect and was found sunk into a hole she had made on the sofa after not moving from it at all in a long period of time — possibly years — prior to her death.

“The caretakers just let her sit on the couch,” District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla told NOLA.com. “She just urinated and used the bathroom on the couch. It was so horrific.”

The parish coroner, Ewell Bickham III, said Lacey Fletcher weighed 96 pounds when she died. When she was discovered, she allegedly had maggots all over her body and in her matted hair, and her face, chest and abdomen was covered in human fecal matter. She had pressure ulcers — also known as bedsores — on her backside that were bone-deep and possibly a result of the fact that she'd worn a hole into the couch cushion in which she had both sat and used to urinate and defecate.

Her remains also tested positive for COVID-19, though no one outside her family had seen her in years.

Bickham ruled Fletcher’s death a homicide due to “severe chronic neglect,” D’Aquilla told NOLA.

Bickham told WBRZ that he was extremely disturbed by the case.

"I couldn't eat for a week, and I cried for a week," he said of his state of mind after the autopsy. According to NOLA, he was the one who pressed for an investigation into the circumstances of her death.

D'Aquilla will ask a grand jury to indict the parents on second-degree murder charges on Monday.

“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 told NOLA.com. “It’s cruelty to the infirm. We can’t just let it sit.”

In an interview with investigators on Jan. 18, the parents allegedly said their daughter was possibly autistic and that she hadn‘t seen a therapist for what they described as several social anxiety since she was in her twenties. They claimed, however, that she was of sound mind at the time of her death, despite what they said was her intense fear of moving from the sofa; she had previously refused to cooperate in her parents' desire to have her committed, according to a police report.

Her parents said that she voluntarily began eating less in the autumn and passed away on the morning of Jan. 3, which is when they called police.

It’s not clear if the parents have lawyers. According to NOLA, authorities decided not to arrest the couple before the grand jury hears evidence in the case.

Shelia was a town alderman who resigned from her post in February, WBRZ reports. She had previously worked as a police and court clerk in Baker and as an assistant to the city prosecutor in Zachary, according to her LinkedIn page. Clay Fletcher is an officer of the nonprofit Baton Rouge Civil War Roundtable, according to NOLA.com.