Mich. abuse charge leads to new look at man’s malnutrition death
Louisville, Ky. — Kentucky officials are reviewing the 2009 malnutrition death of a disabled man after his sister was charged in Michigan with locking another sibling in a closet for years, a coroner said Thursday.
Authorities in Corunna, Michigan, charged 44-year-old Candy Lawson last week with unlawful imprisonment, vulnerable adult abuse and embezzlement from a vulnerable adult. She has pleaded not guilty. Authorities say she kept her disabled adult sister locked in a closet for six or seven years with little food, water or clothing and only a bucket for urination.
Police visited Lawson’s home July 9 for a welfare check following an anonymous tip.
Shiawassee County’s chief assistant prosecutor Daniel Nees said they found the 42-year-old disabled woman locked in a closet suffering from malnourishment and dehydration. Police said she was hospitalized for about a week before being placed in protective custody.
Franklin County, Kentucky, Coroner William Harrod says Lawson’s 33-year-old disabled brother, Christopher Justin Churchill, died in Frankfort in 2009 of protein calorie malnutrition.
Harrod said he will be reviewing his file and communicating with Kentucky State Police, who handled the original death investigation.
A state police spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Harrod said several things could contribute to protein calorie malnutrition. He said the death certificate currently lists the manner of death as natural, but that could change if any new evidence is found.
“At the time of Mr. Churchill’s death in 2009, we didn’t have substantial enough evidence to prove any type of neglect or anything,” he said. “What we’ve got to do is see if we can get any substantial evidence to support anything otherwise than what we have now.”
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