The discovery of Lacey Fletcher’s body in a state of severe neglect at her parents’ home in East Feliciana, Louisiana, was disturbing even to the coroner who investigated the case, as revealed in a new interview.
Found in January 2022, the 36-year-old was in a condition that Dr. Ewell Bickham, the coroner who examined her, described as unprecedented in his extensive experience with death investigations in an interview with NewsNation.
“I’ve seen every kind of death there is. I have never seen a homicide like this. I have never seen a human being literally tortured and allowed to die while she is alive,” Bickham said during an interview with NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield.
“Lacey did not decompose. She rotted in her own body, in that hole, in that sewer, in the couch.”
Sheila and Clay Fletcher, Lacey’s parents, entered a plea of no contest to manslaughter charges related to their daughter’s death. Prosecutors highlighted the prolonged suffering Lacey endured, lying in waste for approximately 12 years, leading to her weighing just 100 pounds at her death.
Despite having been diagnosed with autism, her parents contended she refused food, which contributed to her inability to leave the couch and ultimately to her death.
Lacey Fletcher’s earlier life contrasted sharply with her tragic end. She was once a vibrant student at Brownsville Baptist Academy, participating in volleyball before being homeschooled post-ninth grade.
Robert Blades, a 61-year-old neighbor, reminisced about Lacey as “just a normal fun kid” who disappeared from public view about 15 years ago, following her parents’ claims of her developing anxiety and undergoing psychological treatment.
Bickham recounted the harrowing details of the scene he encountered at the Fletcher household, emphasizing the unbearable odors that greeted him.
“When I walked in, the house smelled of a stench of, it smelled like a sewer, or septic tank and also a smell of death,” he recounted. The presence of Lacey’s parents in the home, with her father appearing emotionless and her mother visibly distressed, added to the grim atmosphere.
The condition of Lacey’s body, with visible sores and bones, and infested with maggots, underscored the severity of her neglect. Bickham noted the absence of evidence suggesting regular feeding, except for a small bag of hard candy found nearby. He speculated that Sheila and Clay Fletcher might not have been living in the same conditions as their daughter, suggesting an alternate living situation due to the unbearable stench in the house.
Following their daughter’s discovery, the Fletchers faced second-degree murder charges but ultimately pleaded no contest to manslaughter. Their legal journey saw them denying the murder charges for nearly 18 months until their recent plea. They remain out on bond, with a forthcoming court hearing scheduled at the East Feliciana Courthouse.
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