Wife charged with neglect after disabled husband found covered in feces

Darlene Dickinson
Disabled husband neglected
Disabled husband neglected
Greenwood adult neglect Sunrise

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WTHR) - A woman in Greenwood is accused of keeping her disabled husband trapped in a room for two years in deplorable conditions.

Prosecutors charged 69-year-old Darlene Dickinson with felony neglect and police arrested her Tuesday afternoon at her Greenwood home.

Prosecutors say for years, that home held a terrible secret - a disturbing case of neglect kept hidden - until neighbor Lisa Tiedemann took action. She got worried when she hadn't seen Darlene Dickinson's 71-year-old husband, who is disabled, for months.

"When you're over there as much as I was and you see nothing? It's kind of a red flag. Not on the porch when it's nice outside, nothing. So I started questioning. When I questioned it, she (Darlene) got very defensive. I said I have to figure this out," Tiedemann said.

She says she waited until Dickinson went out one day in May and went over to look for the man.

"I went to the bedroom window," Tiedemann recalled. "There was bugs, stuff all over the window, so I knew."

She says she found flies, feces and the vulnerable victim begging for help.

"He was in a very dirty t-shirt, in a diaper, and covered in feces. Yeah, it was bad. It was the worst thing I'd ever seen. So yeah, she pretty much, he was at her mercy," Tiedemann said.

Prosecutors say Darlene Dickinson confined her husband to a bedroom for two years. They say the stroke survivor and amputee was essentially trapped by his own wife.

When police got to the house following Tiedemann's call to 911, the victim weighed just 100 pounds. He told investigators his wife withheld medication and fed him one "Meals on Wheels" dinner and one warm can of Pepsi per day.

"His room was covered in trash, covered in rotten food, was covered in feces," said Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Shaina Carmichael. "He was extremely thin, malnourished and needed care. His life and his welfare was being endangered and we believe that was knowing and intentional."

Investigators say the rest of the house was immaculate - everything but the bedroom where the victim was confined.

"I'd describe it as hers was a ten and his was a minus ten. Yeah, the bed was literally rotted out with feces," Tiedemann said.

Police arrested Dickinson Tuesday afternoon. She faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

Her husband, meanwhile, is doing much better. Prosecutors say he's gained at least 30 pounds and is living with his son. He also recently met with the neighbor who saved his life.

"I went over a couple of weeks ago. All he could tell me was I was his hero and I said no, I'm just your friend. I would do it again. So, yeah, he's very thankful. He says I saved his life, but it's just...what we do," Tiedemann said. "He's okay now. He's okay."

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