Mass. family charged with leaving 80-year-old grandmother in recliner for more than a month

An 80-year-old woman lay for a month in a recliner soaked with her waste, her long toenails curling back into her skin and suffering from deep bedsores, authorities said in announcing charges against five family members.

The woman was in critical condition at St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River on Wednesday, said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter.

She had a bacterial infection in her bloodstream and was covered with bedsores, including one so deep that tendons could be seen through her decomposing skin, Miliote said. She also had 1-inch facial hair around her mouth and her toenails were so long that they were curled and bent back into her skin, he said.

"This is just a horrendous set of facts. The condition she was in is something none of us have seen," Miliote said. "Our initial indication is she was likely in this recliner chair, sleeping 24 hours a day, in excess of a month."

Police found the woman Saturday after a family member called 911. Paramedics found the woman in the recliner, where she was in and out of consciousness, Miliote said. Authorities did not release the woman's name.

The woman's 49-year-old daughter, Karen Cabral, and Cabral's 51-year-old husband, Duarte, were charged with permitting injury to an elderly or disabled person and permitting serious injury to an elderly or disabled person. Two of the woman's grandsons, Scott Cabral, 24, and Corey Cabral, 21, were arrested on the same charges. Another grandson, Keith Cabral, 28, was charged with elder neglect with serious injury.

All five were arraigned Tuesday and were being held at the Bristol County House of Correction on Wednesday on bails ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 cash.

Lawyers for the family members did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

During a bail hearing Tuesday, Karen Cabral's lawyer, Kenneth van Colen, said the elderly woman had been in a slow decline, which accelerated in the few days before the family called 911 for help. He said the family asked her to go to the hospital and bought applesauce and other soft food to try to get her to eat. He said she rejected their offers to help her bathe.

"When they do a thorough investigation, they will find that no one has done anything wrong in terms of caring for this woman or getting treatment for this woman," he said.

The woman and the five family members all lived together in a second-floor apartment in Fall River.

City police would not answer questions about the case, but in a statement said that family members called 911 because the woman was incoherent, "a condition that was first noticed several days earlier but no action was taken."

The woman's 81st birthday is Thursday.