Story Summary

Woman arrested after her mom found covered in maggots

Sherrie Morton, 46, of Auburn was arrested last week (June 2013) after her 70-year-old mother was found covered with her own feces and maggots in their house. She was her mother’s primary caregiver and had been living with her mom for the last 13 years along with her boyfriend and their 6-year-old son.  Paramedics rushed the victim to the hospital to be treated for sepsis and gangrene.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 2 updates

AUBURN — When detectives were called to a home in the 17000 block of 315th Ave. SE in Auburn home last week, what they found inside made their stomachs turn.

SherrieMorton (3)“The inside of the house was filthy.  There was garbage stacked up everywhere, the countertops were full of dirty dishes and food,” police detective Marylisa Priebe-Olson said.

In a back bedroom, a 70-year-old woman was in such bad shape that investigators say it looked like something out of a horror movie.

“When they arrived they found her basically sitting in her own feces and urine for days covered in maggots that were eating her open wounds she had on her leg,” Priebe-Olson said.

Deputies arrested the woman’s daughter, Sherrie Morton, 46, who was her primary caregiver and had been living with her mom for the last 13 years along with her boyfriend and their 6-year-old son.  Paramedics rushed the victim to the hospital to be treated for sepsis and gangrene.

“She was screaming in pain as they were trying to wash the maggots out of her open wounds.  She had many open abscesses that had feces and drainage from the bug activity,” said Priebe-Olson.

In her 20 years of investigating elder abuse cases, Priebe-Olson said this is the worst case she’s ever seen.  But police know there are other cases out there that haven’t been reported.

“Unfortunately, we think a lot more of this goes on than we know because elderly people aren’t able to report it because they don’t know they’re victims. If you know someone is a victim, you can call Crime Stoppers and remain anonymous,” said Pierce County Sheriff’s Department detective Ed Troyer.

You can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or 1-866-END-HARM.

Neighbors in Auburn say they were worried about this woman, but didn’t want to get involved.

“It is a lot bigger issue. As a society and community, we need to do a better job paying attention to our neighbors,” Priebe-Olson said. “It is unfathomable. I couldn’t imagine seeing it, investigating it. I’m still in shock to be honest with you that someone would allow that to happen in their own home, to their own mother.”

Doctors say the maggots actually helped keep this woman alive because they were eating the infected flesh that would have killed her.  She is still in the hospital.  The suspect’s son is now in Child Protective Services custody.

Sherrie Morton has quite an extensive criminal history, which is actually why neighbors say they were scared to talk on camera. She has served time for manufacturing meth, drug possession, assault and theft.  She is being held on $150,000 bond and will appear in court on this criminal mistreatment charge on July 8.

bedAUBURN, Wash. — Hundreds of maggots eating away at an obese elderly woman’s dead skin may have kept her alive, slowing an infection allegedly coming after days of neglect from her caretaker.

According to court documents, the 70-year-old woman’s daughter, Sherrie Morton, faces felony elder-abuse charges after King County sheriff’s deputies found the elder woman stuck to the bedding in her home, with maggots eating at an open wound and bed sheets “soiled with the byproducts of injury and covered in bugs.”

Morton is charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment of a dependent person. She is in King County jail on $150,000 bail.

Deputies were recently called to a home near Southeast 315th Street. They spotted the 70-year-old woman laying on a bed through a window and entered the home only to be confronted by Morton. Morton, 46, allegedly told detectives she was her mother’s caretaker, and that she called police once she noticed her mother’s injury.

However, paramedics called to the scene said the elder woman’s “septic, gangrenous wound” was at least a month old. In fact, the wound was so bad, the maggots eating at the flesh helped keep the woman alive.

“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,” a King County Sheriff’s Detective said in court documents.

Firefighters and paramedics in hazardous-material suits were called to the scene to help the 70-year-old woman. They transported the elderly woman to the Valley Medical Center, where staff allegedly removed hundreds of maggots from her body.

Morton claimed she called 911 after spotting the maggots and smelling “rotting flesh” in her mother’s room. Morton allegedly admitted some neglect, saying it was a pain to change her 400-pound mother’s diaper. A friend of Morton allegedly told police she saw maggots in the woman’s wound four days before, and flies circled the room.

Sheriff’s detectives found large piles of garbage in the home, and the pervasive smell of rotting flesh, feces and ammonia was evident even through protective masks.