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27 Sep 2017

Woman kept deaf sister locked in closet for seven years while stealing benefits

A woman who kept her deaf sister locked up in a closet while she spent her benefits has been convicted. Candy Lawson, 46, was gave her adoptive sister Diana Churchill little food, water or clothing during her seven-year ordeal in the tiny 4ft by 8ft space.
She was freed in 2015 when she was discovered at the house in Corunna, Michigan, by construction worker, Robert Lamar, while he carried out works on the house.

Lawson was meant to be caring for her sister following their mother’s death 10 years ago, but instead subjected her to years of abuse.

The prosecutor said: ‘I think the easy answer for us is we think the motive was the benefits she was getting, the social security money that she was getting.

‘It’s too bad that somebody can be on the radar with the SOS Administration that there is no protocol in place for actual face-to-face follow up, to figure out whether or not this person is alive and well, and actually getting the benefit of their funds.

‘In this case, obviously the system let this woman down.’ Diana’s brother, who had the same cognitive and physical impairments as her, died at the age of 33 weighing just 60lbs. Police are now investigating whether she was also responsible for his death but no charges have been brought. Lawson claimed that the closet was a room and the reason she locked her in was to prevent her from walking off in the night.

She also said that she hadn’t deprived her of food and was free to walk around the house. However she was malnourished and so dirty that her skin reacted badly when nurses used soap to try and clean her.

Diana is now being cared for by the state and is doing much better according to Wnem. Speaking about the case, Mr Lamar who found her said: ‘Horrible really. It was disgusting how she left her sister. Someone that doesn’t care about another human’s life.’ She will be sentenced on October 27.

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