while ‘fused’ to a sofa with her own faeces has made headlines over the past several days.
Lacey Ellen Fletcher, who had severe autism and social anxiety, died at 36 in her family home in the town of Slaughter, Louisiana, around January 3.
Her parents, 65-year-old Clay and 64-year-old Sheila, were later arrested and yesterday.
Many cannot comprehend how Lacey’s primary carers could possibly let her live in the state she was found – partially submerged in a couch hole covered in urine, faeces, maggots and insect bites.
So here is a round-up of all the personal details we know about the Fletchers so far.
Who are Shelia and Clay Fletcher?
The couple lived with their daughter in a two-story, ranch-style home in a small southern American town.
Shelia and Clay have been described as respectable ‘pillars of their community’ in local media.
The mum worked in local legislation on the Slaughter’s Board of Alderman for around four years – before she quit on January 24.
Sheila was also an assistant to the city prosecutor in the nearby city of Zachary.
Before this, she worked as a police and court clerk in the neighbouring city of Baker.
Ironically, these were all authorities who would have been able to help the Fletchers find care for Lacey.
Clay was reportedly an officer of the non-profit Baton Rouge Civil War Roundtable – an organisation which claims to ‘provide a non-partisan atmosphere, to educate and foster an appreciation for the sacrifices made by all during the civil war’.
‘Appalled neighbours’ of the family have said they had no idea Sheila and Clay even had a daughter.
What have the parents said?
District attorney Sam D’Aquilla previously said the Fletchers ‘had no explanation’ when officers arrived at their home after Sheila called 911.
The couple did not attend the courthouse in Clinton, Louisiana, when a jury decided to charge them with ‘the highest charge that could have been produced for this type of crime’.
They have not been seen in public since the news broke about their daughter’s death in March.
The Fletchers’ lawyer, Steven Moore, previously said in a 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.’
District attorney Sam D’Aquilla told that between 2011 and 2012 Lacey’s parents claimed their daughter did not want to leave the house.
They have reportedly told law enforcement their daughter was able to communicate with them and never complained.
Mr D’Aquilla said: ‘If you are not capable of providing the care than get help. We want people to know that if you are a caregiver of someone you need to pay attention is it important for neighbours and the community to look out for each other. We hope this never happens again.’
What were the Fletchers charged with?
A new grand jury is selected every six months in East Feliciana Parish – Slaughter’s parish.
The courts believed it should be the new jury to decide on the Fletchers’ charges and the fresh group of ‘storekeepers and farmers’ decided on second-degree manslaughter on their first day.
Based on the evidence, the jury chose the charge over negligent homicide (up to five years in prison) and manslaughter (up to 40 years in prison).
The biggest discerning factor of second-degree murder is that prosecutors will have to prove intent.
District attorney Sam D’Aquilla, who pushed for the murder charge, said: ‘Did [the Fletchers] want to kill her? I want to say yeah, they wanted to kill her.’
If convicted, the couple could face life in prison.
Who was Lacey Ellen Fletcher?
Lacey was diagnosed with severe autism and social anxiety.
It was previously internationally reported she had locked-in syndrome, but East Feliciana parish coroner Dr Ewell Bickham III has since said this is inaccurate.
He told a press conference: ‘I don’t know where that term came from or what source it came from. In all my years as a practising 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.’
He also explained that the last time Lacey saw a doctor of any kind was when she was 16 years old – just after her first year of high school, when the family decided she should be home-schooled.
Dr Bickham said he believes Lacey was left on the couch she died in for ‘a terribly long period of time – at least 12 years’.
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