Coroner found woman 'melted' into couch after she disappeared for a decade; grand jury weighing charges for her parents
SLAUGHTER, La. – A grand jury will meet Monday to determine if a woman’s parents should be held accountable for her death, Sam D’Aquilla, the district attorney for the 20th Judicial District, said.
The body of 36-year old Lacey Fletcher was found rotting and "melted" into a couch of her parents' home back in January. Fletcher only weighed 96 pounds, and sources said it's one of the worst cases of neglect they have ever seen.
Dr. Ewell Bickham, coroner of East Feliciana Parish, was very limited in what he could say due to the pending grand jury hearing, but told the WBRZ Investigative Unit in his 30 years as a practicing physician he's never seen anything like it.
"I couldn't eat for a week, and I cried for a week," Dr. Bickham said.
Fletcher's parents, Sheila and Clay Fletcher, are longtime residents of Slaughter. Sheila was a town alderman who recently resigned her post in February.
The East Feliciana Parish coroner ruled Lacey's death a homicide after she died Jan. 3 in her parents’ home. The coroner’s office notified the district attorney and sheriff’s office of its findings, leading to the criminal investigation.
Sources told the WBRZ Investigative Unit she had insects all over her body and was covered in feces from head to toe. The couch was a "latrine" and her body had melted through the padding of the sofa. It's unclear when she was last mobile, but sources estimate she had been sitting in the same place for years.
No arrests have been made, and the sheriff's office said it did not arrest the parents due to the pending grand jury hearing Monday. Her family also appeared to not announce it other than a brief death notice online.
Neighbors the WBRZ Investigative Unit spoke to did not even know Lacey had died until we told them.
"I asked him one day a couple of years ago because I hadn't seen her," Robert Blades said. "Yeah, she still stays here."
Blades said he used to see Lacey outside, but that stopped about five or six years ago. Blades was in disbelief that her parents could have kept such an awful secret.
"They go to church every weekend... and do anything for anybody," Blades said.
Sources said the room where Lacey Fletcher was staying reeked of urine and feces.
“It was the smell of rot,” D’Aquilla said. “We don’t even treat animals like this.”
The grand jury will explore if Lacey’s parents should be charged with cruelty to the infirm or something greater.
No one was at the Fletchers’ home Tuesday, and attempts to contact Sheila and Clay Fletcher were not successful. On Wednesday, their lawyer, Steven Moore, released the following 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.”
Moore said the pair was not asked to be present for the hearing on Monday. He declined to answer further questions about the situation.