The coroner said she had been sitting there for at least 12 years.
update: 5/3/2022 7:55 AM PST
Lacey Fletcher's parents have been indicted by a grand jury on second-degree murder charges.
Clay, 65, and Sheila Fletcher, 64, were arrested on Monday and booked into East Feliciana Parish Jail, WBRC reported.
Coroner Dr. Ewell Bickham said that the victim had been sat on the couch for at least 12 years.
"Evidence wise, a minimum of 12 years," he said, per Daily Mail. "Could be before that. At least 12 years. A terribly long period of time."
Describing the horrific scene, he said Lacey — who suffered from severe autism and social anxiety — was found partially naked, sitting upright and cross-legged, half submerged in the pool of her own body fluids that had worn through the couch.
Lacey died while her parents were away on a weekend trip.
The cause of death, Bickham said, "stemmed from severe medical neglect, which led to chronic malnutrition, acute starvation, immobility, acute ulcer formation, osteomyelitis which is bone infection which led finally to sepsis."
The pictures of the scene were so bad, medics had to be on standby for members of the jury who were forced to look at them.
"When I was presenting the case and showed the pictures and gave the timeline the expressions of the grand jury was utter shock," Bickham said. "Like the clock on the wall never moved again."
"There was complete silence. Some jurors were gasping in horror. Some were staring in disbelief."
"Seeing those photos again and reliving this traumatic experience again was really hard," he added.
A trial date has yet to be set. If convicted, both parents could be sentenced to life in prison.
original story: 4/29/2022 11:08 AM PST
The parents of severely autistic Lacey Ellen Fletcher who died 'fused' to a sofa by her own excrement were arrested on Monday and face life in jail after a grand jury indicted them on second-degree murder charges.
DailyMail.com has obtained jail mugshots of Clay, 65, and Sheila, 64, taken shortly after they were picked up by sheriff's deputies and hauled off to East Feliciana Parish Jail in Clinton. Louisiana.
Sheriff Jeffery Travis told DailyMail.com: 'We picked them up, arrested them, brought them to the jail and we're in the process of booking them in.
'Their bond is not my purview. The judge sets the bond and she will work with their attorney for that. I'd say the bond will be really high.
DailyMail.com understands that the couple’s bond is unlikely to be set for a few days.
That means under Louisiana state law that Sheila Fletcher is likely to be moved to a prison until at least the bond issue is sorted because there is a time limit that females can be held in jail. Her husband Clay will remain in the parish jail.
The first arraignment is expected to be in around two to three weeks.
In a horrific scene, Lacey's emaciated body was discovered partially naked, sitting upright and partly submerged in a hole in a couch covered from head to toe in urine, liquid feces, maggots and insect bites at her parents' otherwise neat single family home in Slaughter on January 3.
Her feet were crossed underneath her on the couch deep inside the hole that her long-suffering body had worn through both the upholstery and cushion. Dr Ewell Bickham III said she had been stuck on the couch for at least 12 years.
Additionally it has been reported that Lacey had fecal matter shoved on her face, chest and abdomen. Her hair was matted, knotted and filled with maggots – and she weighed less than 100lbs.
Arrest warrants for the Fletchers were prepared immediately after the grand jury decision.
East Feliciana Parish Coroner Dr Ewell Bickham III told DailyMail.com Monday that the images of the conditions Lacey was found in were so horrific and upsetting that medics would be on standby for the members of the jury.
He added that the photos of the scene left those in the room speechless.
'When I was presenting the case and showed the pictures and gave the timeline the expressions of the grand jury was utter shock,' he said. 'Like the clock on the wall never moved again.'
'There was complete silence. Some jurors were gasping in horror. Some were staring in disbelief.'
Bickham also told the DailyMail.com that the case has been really hard on him personally and described Monday’s grand jury proceedings as ‘long emotional day.’
'Seeing those photos again and reliving this traumatic experience again was really hard.'
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.'
The Fletchers were arrested on Monday afternoon.
Dr Bickham revealed that Lacey had been on the couch for at least 12 years.
'Evidence wise, a minimum of 12 years,' he said. 'Could be before that. At least 12 years. A terribly long period of time.'
The coroner also revealed the full horrific cause of death.
He said: 'The cause of death stemmed from severe medical neglect, which led to chronic malnutrition, acute starvation, immobility, acute ulcer formation, osteomyelitis which is bone infection which led finally to sepsis.'
Dr Bickham also cleared up a misunderstanding about Lacey's actual condition, originally reported as 'Locked-In' Syndrome.
He said: 'I don't know where that term came from or what source it came from. In all my years as a practicing physician I have never heard of that term.
'The only diagnoses that I know she did have was first, social anxiety, severe autism and that's it. Those are her only two diagnoses.
'The last time she saw a physician of any type or any kind was when she was 16 years old. That picture of her was when she was 16.'
DA D'Aquilla agreed Lacey's death was a 'crime against humanity' and added: 'I hope this indictment brings some spotlight to victims of this type of crime.
'The coroner has a lot of authority, a lot of power. If people don't want to get treatment or they refuse treatment, go to the coroner's office, go to law enforcement, check on your neighbors, check on your friends. If you are a care giver, reach out and make sure people are taken care of.
'This case was so horrific that the coroner and the sheriff's office initially investigated this case in January and the conditions that she was found it was just unbelievable.
'You don't treat anybody of any animals like that. Something had to be done and we all got together, we all stood on the same platform and we are all here now and we have an indictment for second degree murder.'
Sheriff Travis added: 'It was nothing short of horrific and sickening. We all collectively worked together to reach the point that we are at now. This is a case that is rare, but today everything was done correctly by every member of this team and we successfully reached a conviction(sic) that we believe is going to being justice for Lacey's situation.
Two Louisiana parents could be charged with murder after their disabled daughter was found "melted" into a couch.
The body of 36-year-old Lacey Fletcher was discovered at her home in the tiny quiet town of Slaughter back on January 3, in what can only be described as abhorrent circumstances.
Recounting the nauseating scene to WAFB, coroner Dr. Ewell Bickham estimated that the woman had been sat in the same place for years — to the point she had literally become fused to the furniture.
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"I couldn't eat for a week, and I cried for a week," Dr. Bickham said.
“When I first walked in the house, it smelled of feces, fecal material, however you want to put that politely, it stunk," he recalled. "And when I got to the body, the individual was basically sitting in a hole, filled with liquid stool and urine."
The victim, he said, was covered from head to toe in urine and liquid feces, with bed sores that went down to the bone, and was crawling with insects. She weighed just 96lbs.
Fletcher reportedly suffered from locked-in syndrome, unable to move any muscles besides her eyes. Her parents were supposed to be her caretakers.
Bickham claimed she had been left to use the couch as a latrine, and she had eventually melted through the upholstery of the 1960′s-style sofa.
"It's the worst form of medical neglect I've ever seen. I don't know any other adjectives or adverbs to add to that," Bickham said, claiming she had been neglected for at least a decade.
"I've never seen anything like this, that literally turned my stomach as bad as it did," the coroner told WBRZ. "It literally got me emotional, and I'm a strong person."
Her parents called 911 on January 3 when they noticed she'd stopped breathing; first responders entered the otherwise idyllic home to find the nightmarish scene:
Though her death was officially recorded on January 3, Bickham believes she could have died 24 or even 48 hours before that.
After an autopsy, Jefferson Parish Forensic Center ruled the death a homicide.
Fletcher's parents have not been arrested or charged with any crime. But District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla has called on the grand jury to consider second-degree murder.
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Other potential charges include manslaughter, cruelty to the infirmed, negligent homicide — or none at all.
"The caretakers just let her sit on the couch. She just urinated and used the bathroom on the couch," D'Aquilla said, per WBRZ. "It was so horrific."
"It was the smell of rot," he added. "We don’t even treat animals like this."
According to The Sun, the parents were interviewed by detectives on January 18,
They claimed Lacey had suffered severe social anxiety as a teen, and was homeschooled. They said she refused to leave the couch, and would urinate and defecate in towels or on the floor, per the outlet.
They said they had not brought her to a doctor in ten years because she was not ill, and that she was "of sound mind to make her own type of decisions," it reported. They insisted they cleaned her wounds and brought her meals.
This week, their attorney released a brief statement:
“They don't want to relive the pain of losing a child through the media. They have been through a lot of heartache over the years. Anyone who had lost a child knows what it's like."
Neighbors spoke of their shock at the horrific revelation; one told WBRZ he had last seen Lacey outside five or six years ago.
"I asked him one day a couple of years ago because I hadn't seen her," Robert Blades said of the father. "'Yeah, she still stays here.'"
"They go to church every weekend... and do anything for anybody," the stunned neighbor added.
The grand jury will decide what charges — if any — will be brought on May 2.