INDIANAPOLIS – INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Three people kept a 65-year-old woman with dementia locked in a tiny room with a urine-soaked mattress to sleep on and a dog bowl to drink from so that they could live off her monthly Social Security checks, authorities said.
A police officer sent to the suspects' home in Anderson on Thursday found Anna Turner locked in the 6-foot by 8-foot storage room, police said in a probable cause affidavit.
Luigi A. Amalfitano, 45, told the officer that he didn't know Turner and that she wasn't at the home. But the officer conducted a sweep of the home and found Turner in a room that was "barely fit to contain an animal, let alone a human being," according to police.
Amalfitano, his 20-year-old son Louis A. Amalfitano, and his son's girlfriend 21-year-old Stephanie Lynette Cole were arrested and face preliminary charges of exploitation of an endangered adult. The Amalfitanos also face preliminary charges of confinement and battery, and Cole faces a preliminary charge of aiding confinement. The three remained jailed Friday on $100,000 cash bonds. A Madison County Jail officer said he did not know whether any had an attorney.
Anderson police Detective Mitch Carroll said Turner suffered severe physical abuse at the house and was gaunt, malnourished and had a black eye and large bruises on her arm and body when she was taken from the home.
He said she was hospitalized but her injuries were not life-threatening.
Carroll said the trio allegedly let Turner out of the room once a month and accompanied her to a store where she cashed her monthly check. He said they only gave Turner enough money to buy a pack of cigarettes.
According to the affidavit, Turner was fed only "enough to stay alive," and police estimated she weighed 85 pounds when they found her.
Turner's family members, including her daughter and son-in-law, had been opposed to her involvement with the suspects, Sgt. Bill Casey said Friday. She had stayed with the suspects off and on for a couple of years, but police don't know when they began confining her to a room. Family members tried to intervene, but Anna insisted they stay out of it, Casey said.
He said the last time Turner's family heard from her was at Christmas.
The Madison County prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to a phone message Friday seeking comment, and it unclear when formal charges would be filed.
Prosecutor Thomas Broderick told The Herald Bulletin in an e-mail that the director of his office's adult protective services division may have saved Turner's life by investigating a tip that a woman was being locked in a room without food or a restroom.
Director Tom Brown said the tip included only first names and some addresses, but police helped him track the current address by cross-referencing police reports including that name Luigi.
"The person who really saved her life was the person who made the call," Brown said.
Carroll said that Turner has been known to Anderson police for years, but that she has never been in trouble with the law.
"She's kind of a sad, pitiful 65-year-old woman — an easy victim, someone who would be very easy to take advantage in this situation," Carroll said.
He said that Cole served as Turner's "confidant" in the alleged scheme who would try to placate the woman after each act of abuse or the check-cashing trips.
"She would say, 'Oh no, it will get better. I'll talk to them.' It was all orchestrated, all part of the artifice," Carroll said.