Parents of a severely disabled woman who was found dead so neglected last year she was “fused” to the couch have been arrested for a second time on charges related to her murder after the first charge was dropped due to technicalities.
Sheila and husband Clay Fletcher, both 64, were initially arrested in May 2022 and charged with second-degree murder. Their daughter’s decomposed corpse was found in January 2022 at their home in Slaughter, Louisiana.
Last month, a judge dismissed the indictment, saying prosecutors had wrongly used foul language for allegations of cruelty to the elderly.
Last week, on June 19, the couple was again charged with manslaughter.
“We will make sure there is justice for Lacey and the public knows that caregivers will be charged with neglecting or abusing a person in their care,” said Sam D’Aquilla, the district attorney.
They were released on bail. If convicted, they risk life in prison.
Sheila Fletcher and Clay Fletcher, both 64, were arrested again on June 19 and charged a second time on second-degree murder charges for the death of their daughter, Lacey, 36. The first charges were dismissed last month due to a technicality
A high school photo of Lacey Ellen Fletcher, 36, taken when she was 16. The coroner believes she spent 12 years on the bench
Their daughter, who suffered from severe autism and social anxiety, died covered in feces and sunk in a hole in a sofa carried by her emaciated body.
She was covered in maggots and sores, had several sores on her underside, and fecal matter was in her face, chest and abdomen, authorities said.
She hadn’t left home in 15 years and was found in her parents’ otherwise tidy home in the small town of Slaughter.
Prosecutors believe she was horribly abused for 12 years.
East Feliciana Parish coroner Ewell Bickham said he was deeply traumatized by the case and felt ill for a week.
The grand jury in the first indictment was shown extensive footage of the circumstances in which Lacey was found.
Dr. Bickham told DailyMail.com that they were so horrifying and disturbing that medics were on standby for the 12 panelists.
He added that the photos of the scene left those in the room speechless.
“When I presented the case and showed the photos and gave the timeline, the grand jury’s expressions were utter shock,” he said.
‘As if the clock on the wall never moved again.
“There was complete silence. Some of the jurors gasped in horror. Some stared in disbelief.’
Sheila, 64, walked out of jail last May on her first charge after posting $300,000 bail — just over 24 hours after her arrest
The mother, charged with murder over the death of her autistic daughter Lacey, was caught leaving East Feliciana Parish Jail
Sheila declined to answer questions from DailyMail.com as she headed out with a hastily arranged bail
Bickham — who was called to the house immediately after Lacey was discovered on Jan. 3, 2022 — also told DailyMail.com that the case was very hard on him personally, describing Monday’s grand jury proceedings as a “long emotional day.”
He added: “It was very difficult to see those pictures again and to relive this traumatic experience.”
Speaking out of court following the grand jury’s decision last year, Bickham revealed that Lacey had been benched for at least 12 years.
“In terms of evidence, at least 12 years,” he said.
‘It could be sooner. At least 12 years. Terribly long.’
WARNING: GRAPHIC PICTURE
The coroner also revealed the full grisly cause of death.
He said: “The cause of death resulted from severe medical neglect, which led to chronic malnutrition, acute starvation, immobility, acute ulceration, osteomyelitis, a bone infection that eventually led to sepsis.”
The doctor also cleared up a misunderstanding about Lacey’s actual condition, originally described as ‘Locked-In’ Syndrome.
A close-up photo of the leather couch Lacey was fused to. The coroner estimates that Lacey has been in that hole in the couch for the past 12 years
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 I know she had were, first, social anxiety, severe autism, and that’s it. Those are her only two diagnoses.
“The last time she saw a doctor was when she was 16 years old. That picture of her was when she was 16.”
Out of court, Sam D’Aquilla said Lacey’s death was a “crime against humanity” and added, “I hope this indictment puts a spotlight on the victims of crimes like this.”
“The coroner has a lot of authority, a lot of power. If people don’t want or refuse treatment, go to the coroner’s office, go to the police, check your neighbors, check your friends. If you are a carer, get in touch and make sure people are taken care of.
A photo of the two-story house on Tom Drive in Slaughter where Lacey lived with her parents
“This case was so gruesome that the coroner and sheriff’s office initially investigated this case in January and the circumstances in which she was found were simply unbelievable.
“You don’t treat anyone or any animal that way. Something had to be done and we all got together, we were all on the same platform and we’re all here now and we’re on trial for first-degree murder.”
The tragedy is even more of a mystery because Sheila Fletcher worked for authorities who may have helped her daughter.
She was a police and court clerk in the small nearby town of Baker and more recently assistant district attorney in Zachary, a smaller, larger community also nearby.
The mother also served on Slaughter’s council of alderman, but stepped down in January 2022, after four years of service
Clay Fletcher is an officer of the non-profit Baton Rouge Civil War Roundtable, whose mission is to “educate and nurture appreciation for the sacrifices made by all during the Civil War.”
The couple’s attorney, Steven Moore, 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 grief over the years. Anyone who has lost a child knows what it is like.’
An undated photo of Clay and Sheila Fletcher standing in front of their Christmas tree
Clay Fletcher, pictured with Sheila in an undated photo, is an officer of the non-profit Baton Rouge Civil War Roundtable, whose mission is “to educate and nurture appreciation for the sacrifices made by all during the Civil War.”
The prosecutor said that in 2011-2012, the Fletchers alleged that Lacey did not want to leave the house and had not been to a doctor.
He said the parents claimed she could communicate with them and apparently never complained.
The Fletchers reportedly said that Lacey developed “some degree of Asperger’s syndrome” after 9th grade when she was homeschooled.
They emphasized during an interview with law enforcement that she was the one who chose never to get off the couch and relieve herself there or on a nearby towel, it is reported.
Sheila Fletcher said she routinely cleaned her daughter’s sores.
“Mom and Dad love you so much,” she wrote in a Facebook post after the death.