A Corunna, Michigan, woman allegedly kept her disabled sister locked in a closet with little food, water, or clothing for as long as seven years.
Candy Lawson’s 42-year-old sister, who suffers from “cognitive and physical impairments,” only had a bucket in the closet for urination, NBC News reports.
The alleged abuse was discovered when police visited Lawson’s home on July 9 for a welfare check after receiving an anonymous tip. They found her sister locked in the closet suffering from malnourishment and dehydration.
The sister was hospitalized for about a week and is now in protective custody.
"When I saw the victim ... I've been in police for 35 years and never seen an adult abuse case of that type," Corunna Police Chief Nick Chiros said.
Chiros said a handyman who visited Lawson’s home had reported finding her sister locked in the closet, New York Daily News reports.
Lawson’s adult daughter and her boyfriend, along with their two children, also lived in the home.
The abuse is believed to have also taken place in the nearby community of Laingsburg, and in Kentucky, before being discovered in Corunna.
Lawson, 44, is charged with unlawful imprisonment, vulnerable adult abuse, and embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, Shiawassee County’s chief assistant prosecutor Daniel Nees said.
She has pleaded not guilty.
Police and prosecutors do not expect to charge anyone else in the case.