CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston police say a woman will face a more serious charge in connection with the care of her elderly mother.
Lisa Dunlap, 50, had her charge upgraded to neglect of an incapacitated adult causing death. She was arrested and initially charged with neglect causing bodily injury this week after police found her mother, Norma Dunlap, 88, in “deplorable” conditions inside their Charleston home.
“She was found to have bed sores, dried human waste on her back, she was covered in ants and other insects and her left leg was sort of rotting from the knee down to the ankle. It was really horrific,” said Police Chief Steve Cooper on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Dunlap was rushed to CAMC General where she died Wednesday night.
Cooper said police also found broken glass and methamphetamine inside the home. He said children were living there.
A family member called police when she saw the conditions, Cooper said.
“Another daughter was suspicious when she came and discovered some of the situation that was going on and notified us and, unfortunately, she passed away,” he said.
Cathy McConnell, who works for the West Virginia Senior Legal Aid based in Morgantown, is having a hard time wrapping her head around, what she calls, a “horrible” case. She said it happens all too often in the state.
“This is obviously an extreme and egregious case of elder abuse, but unfortunately, it’s not the only one out there,” McConnell told MetroNews in a phone interview Thursday.
These cases stem from a number of issues people have, she said.
“I think sometimes it’s intentional abuse that can result from different kinds of psychological and other circumstances,” she said. “This is also a result of our drug abuse problems in West Virginia too.”
McConnell serves as the executive director. She said they work to provide free, legal services for West Virginia residents over the age of 60 in all 55 counties.
Elder abuse is particularly difficult to prevent in a state as rural as West Virginia, McConnell said, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. She’s encouraging people in the community to check up on their neighbors.
“Just checking on someone can make the difference between prevention of this kind of abuse and neglect and it going unnoticed,” she said.
“We have to step up in our communities. We can’t just rely on adult services and government. I think we need to also make sure that our communities are safe on our own.”
This was the second case of elderly abuse in Charleston in the last few months, according to police.
Dunlap is being held at the South Central Regional Jail on a $25,000 cash only bond.