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maggotAUBURN, WA – Scores of maggots were discovered eating away at an obese elderly woman’s dead flesh, but authorities say there may have been an upside. The insects likely kept the helpless victim alive by slowing a spreading infection.

The 70-year-old woman’s daughter, Sherrie Morton, now faces felony elder-abuse charges after King County sheriff’s deputies found the victim stuck to her bedding in a home strewn with garbage and smelling of feces, urine  and ammonia, according to reports. She had  an unknown number of maggots eating at an open wound, and her bed sheets were described as being “soiled with the byproducts of an injury and covered in bugs.” Not unlike a freshman dorm room during finals week.

Deputies were called to the home near Southeast 315th Street, where they spotted the 70-year-old woman laying on a bed through a window. Upon entering the home, they were confronted by Morton, 46. She allegedly told detectives that she was her mother’s caretaker, and that she called 911 after spotting the maggots and smelling “rotting flesh” in her mother’s room.

However, reports have surfaced saying that a family friend forced Morton’s hand by threatening to call law enforcement. Also, a friend of Morton allegedly told police that she saw maggots in the elderly woman’s wound four days prior to 911 being called, as well as flies circling the room.

Paramedics called to the scene said the elder woman’s leg wound was “septic and gangrenous” and was at least a month old. Guess Sherrie isn’t the observant type.  Investigators say that one reason the woman hadn’t died from the infected wound may have been because of the maggots that were feasting on it.

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“The maggots may have helped keep (the woman) alive due to the fact that they were eating the rotting skin that was infected and helping to slow the infection,” said Marylisa Priebe-Olson, a King County Sheriff’s Detective.

Firefighters and paramedics responded in hazardous-material suits to help extricate the 400 pound woman. She was transported to Valley Medical Center, where staff allegedly removed hundreds of maggots from her body. No word on whether the maggots might have been employed initially for weight-loss.

Morton told detectives that her care of her mother was adequate, but that it took several hours just to change her mother’s diaper. Morton has been charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment of a dependent person. She is being held in King County jail on $150,000 bail.

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