Mother of autistic woman found fused to the couch is RELEASED on $300,000 bond
Accused mom Sheila Fletcher walked resolutely out of jail on a $300,000 bond late Tuesday night - a little over 24 hours after she was arrested for the 'murder' of her autistic daughter, who was found fused to a sofa in her own excrement.
Sheila and husband Clay Fletcher, both 64, were charged with second-degree murder Monday and now face life in prison without parole if convicted over 36-year-old Lacey Ellen Fletcher's secret horrific ordeal that lasted at least 12 years.
Pictured leaving East Feliciana Parish Jail in exclusive DailyMail.com photos after her release, Sheila looked straight ahead and refused to answer questions we posed as she headed off with a hastily arranged bail bondsman.
Clay, meanwhile, was forced to spend another night behind bars in Clinton, Louisiana after his bond money could not be arranged in time - but was released 12 hours later Wednesday morning, DailyMail.com can reveal.
The bespectacled mom shed her orange prison jump suit and emerged at 10.30pm local time wearing a blue top with white spots and blue pants. Her short blond hair appeared in disarray.
She refused to say if she felt any remorse over Lacey, who died covered in feces and sunk in a hole in a sofa worn by her emaciated body at her parents' otherwise tidy home in the small town of Slaughter.
Sheila Fletcher, 64, was seen returning to East Feliciana Parish Jail - from she was released Tuesday night - to pick up her husband Wednesday morning after he posted $300,000 bond
Clay Fletcher is also charged with second-degree murder in the death of the couple's 36-year-old autistic daughter Lacey Ellen Fletcher
The father was forced to spend another night in jail while his wife was released Tuesday night after his bond money could not be arranged in time
The mother, looking gaunt, also just stared ahead when we asked why her daughter did not move from the couch for 12 years – a fact revealed by East Feliciana Parish Coroner Dr Ewell Bickham.
Clay Fletcher was released at 10.25am local time Wednesday after his $300,000 bond was sorted following the delay the previous evening.
Sheila was seen returning to the jail with the same bondsman to pick up her husband around 10am, wearing a dark red top, blue pants, white sneakers and carrying a large gold colored bag.
A high school photo of Lacey Ellen Fletcher, 36, taken when she was 16. The coroner believes she was left on the couch for 12 years
She emerged with Clay after he stripped off his orange jumpsuit and completed the necessary paperwork to allow him to walk to freedom.
Dressed in black, the husband also just stared ahead as he made his way swiftly to the pick up truck parked close to the jail's front reception door.
Neither of the couple responded to the same questions DailyMail.com asked Sheila the previous evening.
The pair's release followed an order by a judge late Tuesday afternoon setting the bond for each parent at $300,000.
They used a bondsman, which means they had to put up 12 per cent – $72,000 to cover them both.
The parents were arrested after a grand jury in Clinton agreed with District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla on Monday that they should face second-degree murder charges and not manslaughter.
East Feliciana Parish Jail houses roughly 250 inmates, with several of them awaiting murder charges.
DA D'Quilla told DailyMail.com the couple's first arraignment is likely to be within two months and a trial could commence as early as October.
Sheila 64, walked out of jail late Tuesday night after posting $300,000 bond – a little over 24 hours after her arrest
The mother, who is facing murder charges over the death of her autistic daughter Lacey, was snapped leaving East Feliciana Parish Jail
Sheila refused to answer questions from DailyMail.com as she headed off with a hastily arranged bail bondsman
The grand jury were shown extensive images of the conditions in which Lacey was found. Dr Bickham told DailyMail.com they were so horrific and upsetting that medics were on standby for the 12 panel members.
He added that the photos of the scene left those in the room speechless.
'When I was presenting the case and showed the pictures and gave the timeline the expressions of the grand jury was utter shock, he said. 'Like the clock on the wall never moved again.
'There was complete silence. Some jurors were gasping in horror. Some were staring in disbelief.'
Bickham – who was called to the house immediately after Lacey was discovered on January 3 – also told the DailyMail.com that the case has been really hard on him personally and described Monday's grand jury proceedings as 'long emotional day'.
He added: 'Seeing those photos again and reliving this traumatic experience again was really hard.'
Speaking outside court after the grand jury decision, Bickham revealed that Lacey had been on the couch for at least 12 years.
'Evidence wise, a minimum of 12 years,' he said. 'Could be before that. At least 12 years. A terribly long period of time.'
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE
Sheila Fletcher, 64, and Clay Fletcher, 65, were arrested Monday and indicted on second-degree murder charges for the death of their daughter, Lacey, 36
Her release followed an order by a judge late Tuesday afternoon setting the bond for each parent at $300,000
The bespectacled mom shed her orange prison jump suit and emerged at 10.30pm local time wearing a blue top with white spots and blue pants
The coroner also revealed the full horrific cause of death.
He said: 'The cause of death stemmed from severe medical neglect, which led to chronic malnutrition, acute starvation, immobility, acute ulcer formation, osteomyelitis which is bone infection which led finally to sepsis.'
The doctor additionally cleared up a misunderstanding about Lacey's actual condition, originally reported as 'Locked-In' Syndrome.
A photo showing a close-up of the leather couch Lacey was fused to. The coroner estimates that Lacey was sitting in that hole in the couch for the last 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 that I know she did have was first, social anxiety, severe autism and that's it. Those are her only two diagnoses.
'The last time she saw a physician of any type or any kind was when she was 16 years old. That picture of her was when she was 16.'
Outside the court, DA D'Aquilla said: 'I believe justice was served here today. Lacey Fletcher didn't deserve the way she was treated.
'For this type of crime… second degree is the highest charge that could have been produced today.'
He agreed Lacey's death was a 'crime against humanity' and added: 'I hope this indictment brings some spotlight to victims of this type of crime.
'The coroner has a lot of authority, a lot of power. If people don't want to get treatment or they refuse treatment, go to the coroner's office, go to law enforcement, check on your neighbors, check on your friends. If you are a care giver, reach out and make sure people are taken care of.
A photo of the two-story home located on Tom Drive in Slaughter where Lacey lived with her parents
'This case was so horrific that the coroner and the sheriff's office initially investigated this case in January and the conditions that she was found it was just unbelievable.
'You don't treat anybody or any animals like that. Something had to be done and we all got together, we all stood on the same platform and we are all here now and we have an indictment for second degree murder.'
The tragedy is even more of a mystery as Sheila Fletcher worked for authorities who might have helped her daughter.
She was a police and court clerk in the small nearby city of Baker and more recently an assistant to the city prosecutor in Zachary, a slighter larger community also nearby.
The mom was also on Slaughter's Board of Alderman but quit on January 24 following four years' service and three weeks after the horror discovery.
Clay Fletcher is an officer of non-profit Baton Rouge Civil War Roundtable, which has a mission 'to educate and foster an appreciation for the sacrifices made by all during the Civil War'.
The couple's lawyer Steven Moore has 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.'
An undated photo of Clay, 65 and Sheila, 64, Fletcher standing in front of their Christmas tree
Clay Fletcher, shown with Sheila in undated photo, is an officer of the nonprofit Baton Rouge Civil War Roundtable, which has a mission 'to educate and foster an appreciation for the sacrifices made by all during the Civil War'
Before the grand jury hearing, the coroner said he would present the case with the hope of the parents being charged over the death. 'I probably won't even have to open my mouth, the pictures will show it,' he said.
DA D'Aquilla said at the same time: 'On a murder, you have to have intent. Did they want to kill her? I want to say yeah, they wanted to kill her.
'Negligent homicide is zero to five years, manslaughter is zero to 40 years and second-degree is life in prison. I will ask for second degree because they didn't do what they were supposed to do.
'We don't treat animals or neglect animals in that way. If you have an animal in that condition you have to take them to a vet.
'If you are not capable of providing the care then get help. We want people to know that if you are a caregiver of someone you need to pay attention. It is important for neighbors and the community to look out for each other. We hope this never happens again.'
He said the Fletchers claimed in 2011-2012 that Lacey didn't want to leave the house and had not been to a doctor. He said the parents claimed she was able to communicate with them and apparently never complained.
The Fletchers reportedly said Lacey developed 'some degree of Asperger's syndrome' after 9th grade when she started being home schooled.
They insisted during an interview with law enforcement that she was the one who chose never to leave the couch and to 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.
News of the January horror is breaking now as the autopsy report was not handed to East Feliciana Sheriff's Office until March. At that point Sheriff Jeff Travis consulted with DA D'Aquilla on a course of action that has resulted in the grand jury deliberation.
A new East Feliciana Parish grand jury is selected every six months, with a new one chosen Monday. Authorities decided it should be the new jury that decided the Fletcher case.