Lacey Fletcher's emaciated body was discovered on January 3 in a hole in a couch at her parents' house, partially naked, sitting upright and partially submerged
Harrowing photos of evidence revealed the full excruciating horror of Lacey Fletcher's personal hell before she died on her parents' couch in January, caked in her own excrement.
The 36-year-old autistic woman hadn't moved from the sofa in the otherwise orderly home of parents Clay and Sheila Fletcher, both 64, in the small town of Slaughter.Louisiana, since 12 years.
News of her gruesome death made headlines last week after East Feliciana community authorities released a photo of the couch crater she was lying in that highlighted the gravity of her secret ordeal.
The horrifying picture was one of dozens shown to a newly sworn grand jury Monday in Clinton, Louisiana, during a sealed session that the media was not allowed to attend.
Now DailyMail.com has gained official access to the unseen photos and can reveal the untold extent of Lacey's suffering, which disappeared from public view some 15 years ago.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Sheila Fletcher and Clay Fletcher were arrested Monday and charged with second-degree murder in the death of their daughter Lacey, 36
A disturbing photo released by the coroner's office shows a close-up of the leather couch Lacey had fused into. The coroner estimates that Lacey has been sitting in that hole in the couch for the last 12 years
Additional photos seen by DailyMail.com - and not released to the public - Lacey, who was autistic - buried almost up to her shoulders in a couch crater and suffocated in her own waste
They show Lacey's emaciated and fecal body buried deep in a large hole in the couch, the objects strewn all around her, the living room where she died, as well as heartbreaking close-ups of the horrific wounds inflicted on her contributed to her death.
The horrifying images helped convince the 12 members of the panel to charge parents Sheila and Clay Fletcher, who were church pillars of their community, with second-degree murder - and face a life sentence without parole.
The two were arrested shortly thereafter, but were released from prison within 36 hours on bail of $300,000 each.
District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla, who is charged with murder and who will charge Fletcher in court, shared the images with DailyMail.com in his office near the Clinton courthouse.
However, he would not approve them for publication. Almost all could not be published due to their terrifying, graphic content.
On them, Lacey appears to be buried almost up to her shoulders in the wide and deep hole in the sofa her bony frame has worn over the years, rubbing away at the upholstery.
She is slumped on her left side, her right arm draped over the top half of her emaciated body near her neck.
She is nude except for a small blue patterned t-shirt which is pulled up on her chest and does not cover her breasts.
Her eyes are wide open and staring.
Her mouth is also open, showing what appears to be a full set of front teeth.
Her legs are pulled up and crossed under her, ironically enough for people to get comfortable. But in Lacey's case, it was an attitude to survive.
Former classmates said Lacey began withdrawing into isolation in her teens when her autism accelerated and she was homeschooled after 9th grade
Lacey attended the former Brownsville Baptist Academy in Louisiana, where she (above left) appeared on the school's volleyball team - as seen in pictures exclusively provided to DailyMail.com
A photo of the two story house on Tom Drive in Slaughter where Lacey lived with her parents
Her face is covered in large and angry red spots. Excrement is smeared almost all over her body. It's matted in her hair. It's even in their ears.
The brown leather sofa that served as her prison is next to a wall about 18 inches away.
Amazingly, on the right side of the couch is a gray dresser and a neat pile of clothes.
And in front, only a few meters away, is a low, cluttered black table.
It is littered with bottles of lotion, some talcum powder, a packet of wipes, a nasal spray, a box with a lid that had a child's photo on it, and other items that make it seem like the Fletchers only had the means to treat their sick clean child.
There are two neatly stacked DVD cases between the sofa and the table. It's not possible to make out the titles, but some seemed childish on the covers.
Deeply saddened photos of Lacey, later captured on a doctor's steel table for a forensic examination, reveal the extent of her harrowing and previously unexplained ordeal.
She weighed just 96 pounds when she was found dead in the early hours of January 3.
Close-ups show that the flesh on her buttocks appears to have literally been worn away or eaten away from the 12 years she hasn't moved from the couch.
There are large raw yellow areas where the skin has gone. Other areas of the back and buttocks are so blackened that it is impossible for a layperson to discern any shape or form.
Neighbors revealed that Lacey (centre) appeared as "a fun, normal kid" before becoming increasingly isolated from her neighborhood friends from around the age of 14
Sheila Fletcher, 64, was seen returning to East Feliciana Parish Jail after being released Tuesday night to pick up her husband Wednesday morning after he posted $300,000 bail
Clay Fletcher is also charged with second-degree murder in the death of the couple's 36-year-old autistic daughter, Lacey Ellen Fletcher
Part of a video recorded by Coroner Dr. Ewell Bickham was also seen by DailyMail.com. He was one of the first on the horror scene after a sheriff's deputy responded to an 911 call - and documented the horrific spectacle.
He's breathing heavily as he moves the camera to the gap behind the sofa and the wall. On the floor just behind Lacey's body is a large wet spot which he mistakes for urine.
DA D'Aquilla said in revealing the horror to us, "You can't say she wasn't in pain."
dr Bickham has revealed that Lacey died of "severe medical neglect resulting in chronic malnutrition, acute starvation, immobility, acute ulceration and osteomyelitis, a bone infection that eventually led to sepsis."
Lacey suffers from social anxiety and severe autism, he added. She last saw a doctor when she was 16.
D'Aquilla believes the couple will plead not guilty to second-degree murder, and her legal team will fight to have the charges reduced to at least manslaughter, which carries a zero to 40-year prison sentence.
But he is determined to fight that move. Should it come to a reduced charge, however, he told DailyMail.com: "The Fletchers exposed Lacey to this for 20 years. You must serve at least that time.”
The prosecutor also offered an intriguing thought regarding the fact that Lacey was hidden from the world for around 15 years.
"It strikes me that Lacey hasn't been seen for so long, which put Fletcher off just pulling her body out at night and burying it in her backyard," he said. "No one would have known."
He told DailyMail.com the pair's first indictment is expected to take place within two months and a trial could begin as early as October.
Coroner Bickham told DailyMail.com the images shown to the jury were so horrifying and disturbing that medics were on call for the 12 members of the panel.
Clay Fletcher, pictured with Sheila in an undated photo, is an officer with the nonprofit Baton Rouge Civil War Roundtable whose mission is to "promote an appreciation for the sacrifices everyone made during the Civil War."
An undated photo of Clay, 65, and Sheila, 64, Fletcher, standing in front of their Christmas tree
He added that the photos left those in the courtroom speechless.
"When I presented the case and showed the pictures and gave the timeline, the grand jury's expressions were completely shocked," he said. "As if the clock on the wall had never moved again.
"There was complete silence. Some jurors gasped in horror. Some stared at him in disbelief.'
Bickham also told DailyMail.com that the case was very tough for him personally, describing Monday's grand jury trial as a "long emotional day".
He added, "Seeing those photos again and reliving that traumatic experience was really hard."
Speaking in court after the grand jury's decision, the coroner revealed that Lacey had been on the couch for at least 12 years.
"According to evidence, at least 12 years," he said. 'Could be before. At least 12 years. An awfully long time.”
Late Tuesday night, Sheila Fletcher left East Feliciana Parish Jail - just over 24 hours after her arrest. But husband Clay stayed behind bars for another night because his bail could not be arranged in time.
Sheila, 64, left jail late Tuesday night after posting $300,000 bail - just over 24 hours after her arrest
The mother, who faces murder charges in the death of her autistic daughter Lacey, was snapped leaving East Feliciana Parish Jail
The bespectacled mum - pictured in exclusive DailyMail.com photos - looked forward resolutely and refused to answer our questions as she set off with a hastily arranged bail bondsman.
She had shed her orange prison jumpsuit and emerged at 10:30 p.m. local time in a blue shirt with white spots and blue pants. Her short blond hair appeared in disarray.
She refused to say if she felt any remorse for Lacey or explain how her daughter spent 12 years rotting on a couch.
Husband Clay was released at 10.25am Wednesday after his $300,000 bond was sorted following the previous night's delay.
- EXCLUSIVE: Parents charged in murder of autistic daughter Johnny Depp lets war from Bob Marley in his chauffeured...
Share this article
Sheila was seen returning to the prison with the same serf around 10 a.m. to pick up her husband. She wore a burgundy top, blue pants, white sneakers and carried a large gold toned bag.
She showed up with Clay after he had removed his orange jumpsuit and completed the necessary paperwork for him to go to freedom.
The black-clad husband also just stared straight ahead as he quickly walked to the pickup truck parked near the prison's front door.
Neither responded to the same questions DailyMail.com asked Sheila the night before.