The coroner called to examine Lacey Fletcher after her body was found “melted” in a waste-filled crater in her family’s couch has “never seen a homicide like this” — and is still disturbed by what he saw.
Fletcher, 36, was found covered in urine and feces and “fused” to the maggot-ridden couch at her parents’ East Feliciana, La., home in January 2022 — and this week, Sheila and Clay Fletcher pleaded no contest to manslaughter over her horrifying death.
“I’ve seen every kind of death there is. I’ve never seen a homicide like this. I have never seen a human being literally tortured and allowed to die while she is alive,” Dr. Ewell Bickham told NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield Thursday.
“I’ve never seen that (in) my life. … Lacey did not decompose. She rotted in her own body, in that hole, in that sewer, in the couch.”
Prosecutors said Fletcher had lain there, wasting away and in great suffering, for about 12 years and blamed her parents for the neglect. She weighed 100 pounds at the time of her death.
She had reportedly been diagnosed with autism, and her parents claim she refused to eat when they tried to feed her, leading to her being unable to leave the couch and her eventual death.
Strangely, prior photos show a young and bright-looking Fletcher at school at Brownsville Baptist Academy, where she was on the volleyball team before she was apparently homeschooled after 9th grade.
A neighbor, Robert Blades, 61, said she was “just a normal fun kid” before vanishing from view 15 years ago, after her parents said she had also developed “anxiety” and took her to psychologists, the Daily Mail reported.
Bickham told NewsNation he was still trying to process the awful scene he witnessed — and was horrified by the smell in the house before he even got to Fletcher’s body.
“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 said. “I’ve never smelled that in my life. I’ve dealt with decomposed bodies. I’ve dealt with all sorts of death, degradation, whatever, never experienced this in all of my career.”
Bickham said Fletcher’s parents were in the house when he arrived. Her father was “emotionless” while her mother sat with her “head between her knees” and shed “a tear or two.”
What he found in the room to their left shocked him — and continues to traumatize him, he said.
“It still bothers me today. Like I said, I’ve seen every kind of death there is. I’ve seen elderly people die of natural causes. I’ve seen suicides, homicides, I’ve seen everything there is.”
Bickham said there was no evidence that Fletcher was being fed except for a small bag of hard candy nearby. He said her stomach contained both yellow foam from the couch and feces.
“So you take it from there,” he said.
Bickham also told NewsNation that he did not believe Sheila and Clay Fletcher lived with their daughter in the house.
“I don’t believe they were living in the home,” he said. “You could not live in the house. Nobody could stand the stench, to be honest with you. I think there was something adjacent.”
Lacey Fletcher had sores and bone visible when she was found and had been infested with maggots — including around her genitals — while she was still alive, documents obtained from the Daily Mail indicate.
Her parents were initially arrested in January 2022 after Fletcher was discovered dead inside the hole in the couch.
The couple, who faced second-degree murder charges, pleaded no contest Monday to reduced charges of manslaughter.
The Fletchers spent almost 18 months denying second-degree murder after being indicted twice by a grand jury in Clinton, Louisiana. They had faced the possibility of life in prison without parole if convicted at a trial due to start this week.
They are out on bond until Feb. 20. Their next court hearing is at the East Feliciana Courthouse on March 20.