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Cops: Woman Found Infested by Maggots May Not Survive

A bedridden woman found barely alive with maggots eating her flesh remains hospitalized at Mainland Medical Center, but police are not sure she will survive.

Retired Galveston County sheriff's deputy Linda Sue Sainz was taken to the hospital, located in Texas City, after someone called 911 late Friday night claiming to be her 38-year-old son. He said his mother had bedsores and needed an ambulance, police Capt. Brian Goetschius said. The son, who police continued to search for Tuesday, said the back door of the house would be open and hung up, Goetschius said.

Struggling with health problems, the 62-year-old woman stayed inside for weeks at a time with her son, who had lived with her almost all his life. Sainz also did not like going to doctors, her children told police.

Police declined to specify Sainz's pre-existing medical problems, noting they are still waiting to receive medical records that were subpoenaed. Prosecutors also want the medical records before pursuing charges, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday in its online edition.

Adult Protective Services caseworkers also are investigating.

The son, whose name police declined to release, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The initial police investigation indicates Sainz's son was her sole provider of food, medical care and shelter, while her retirement income paid their bills, Goetschius said.

Authorities said they believed it's been weeks, if not months, that anyone other than her son visibly saw her.

Sainz's other three children, all living in the Houston or Galveston County areas, had spoken to her by phone, but had not visited her in person before the grisly discovery, Goetschius said.

Her eldest son, Aaron Martelli, 43, of Santa Fe, said he had no idea his mother had become so sick or that she was living in such deplorable conditions. He said he last spoke to her by phone a month ago.

"I have a feeling she was putting up a pretty good front," Martelli said outside his mother's home Tuesday.

The first officer to arrive smelled a strong odor of feces and saw what he thought was a decomposing body lying in a puddle of body fluids on the living room floor next to a bed. The woman was motionless and appeared to be dead, police reports show.

Then the officer saw the woman blink her eyes. He yelled for paramedics to come inside, Goetschius said.