SANDSTONE, Minn. – A Minnesota woman has been charged with starving to death her developmentally disabled 10-year-old daughter, who used a feeding tube to gain nourishment.
In a complaint signed by a judge on Friday, Ludusky Sue Hotchkiss, 29, of Sandstone, was charged in Pine County District Court with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of her daughter, Lakesha Victor.
Authorities say a sibling found Lakesha dead on Aug. 20, 2006, at the family's home in nearby Hinckley, about 80 miles north of Minneapolis. It was not clear from the complaint why it took three years to file charges, and the county prosecutor's office did not return an after-hours phone message Monday.
Lakesha had cerebral palsy, autism and a seizure disorder. An autopsy found the girl died from malnutrition and dehydration, and the complaint says she also had pneumonia.
Authorities say her weight dropped from about 50 pounds to 31 pounds in the four months before her death. A change in body weight of more than 20 percent in such a short period could be fatal, according to the charges.
Hotchkiss, who no lives in Sandstone, had not yet been arrested Monday and it was not clear if she had an attorney. She did not have a listed phone number. She is due in court Sept. 29.
According to investigators, Lakesha's medical records show that a feeding tube was inserted into her stomach in March 2005.
The complaint says that an investigator found that in the months preceding the girl's death, her mother did not order enough of Lakesha's food to sustain her and did not feed her enough. The investigator also found that Hotchkiss did not properly use Lakesha's feeding machine, frequently canceled physical therapy sessions for the girl and didn't pick up prescribed seizure medications, the complaint states.
According to the complaint, medical records show that Lakesha was last seen by a doctor in May 2006, three months before her death. At that point, the records say she weighed nearly 47 pounds. Three days before Lakesha's death, Hotchkiss reported to a nurse that she weighed 56 pounds, according to court documents.
Lakesha was supposed to have a personal care attendant, but witnesses told police he was rarely at the home, court records state.
The complaint also claims that Hotchkiss signed off on time sheets for the attendant, even though he didn't fulfill his duties caring for the girl, and the two allegedly planned to split the money. The attendant has not been charged.