Parents plead no contest to manslaughter after daughter’s remains found fused to sofa

Sheila and Clay Fletcher, both 66 (East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office)
Sheila and Clay Fletcher, both 66 (East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office)

A Louisiana couple on Monday pleaded no contest to reduced charges of manslaughter in the death of their daughter whose remains were found “melted” into a sofa in the family home.

Sheila and Clay Fletcher, both 66, were charged after the emaciated remains of their daughter, Lacey Fletcher, 36, were found at their home in Slaughter in January 2022, covered in maggots and human waste.

East Feliciana Coroner Dr Ewell Bickham said the 36-year-old’s remains were found “melted” into the sofa, adding that she could have been sitting in the same position for as long as 12 years before she was discovered, The Advocate reported. She also tested positive for Covid-19.

The 36-year-old was found semi-naked and sitting upright in a sunken crevice in the sofa, District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said.

A forensic pathologist’s autopsy report also revealed Lacey, who had been diagnosed with autism and was non-verbal, had developed a chronic bone infection and was covered in ulcers, with fibers most likely from the sofa and maggots embedded “in the exposed surface of the bones,” the Daily Mail reported.

The report added that she had become infested with maggots while still alive and that she had fecal matter in several places around her body.

Mr and Mrs Fletcher were arrested following the discovery of their daughter’s remains, and previously denied charges of second-degree murder.

Lacey Fletcher suffered from locked-in syndrome and didn’t move off her sofa for 12 years (Handout)
Lacey Fletcher suffered from locked-in syndrome and didn’t move off her sofa for 12 years (Handout)

However, the pair have now pleaded guilty to reduced charges, which could land them a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

The coroner ruled that her death was ultimately caused by sepsis caused by medical conditions resulting from “poor hygiene, prolonged immobility and malnutrition as a result of severe chronic neglect of a special needs individual.”

The coroner’s office also ruled that starvation was a contributing factor in her death, with the 36-year-old weighing just 96 pounds when she was found.

Following the discovery of her remains, a police investigation found that Lacey had not seen a physician since 2002, when she was 16-years-old, WBRZ-TV reported. Sources also told the station she had no health insurance claims on her record.

Mr D’Aquilla told the Daily Mail the 36-year-old’s parents were charged because they allowed their daughter to suffer unbearably.”

“The Fletchers are pleading no contest to the new charges. They had no choice,” he said. “This is an open and shut case—they allowed their daughter to suffer unbearably on that couch.”

Meanwhile, Steven Moore, the couple’s defense attorney, insisted that the couple cared for their daughter and did not intend to harm her.

“They were negligent, yes,” Mr Moore said. “It is clear they were negligent. They loved her to death, and that is the true statement of what the Fletchers are,” he added.

Dr Bickham slammed Mr and Mrs Fletcher following the release of the coroner’s report.

“What happened to Lacey should never happen again,” she said.