Police said Wednesday they believe the dying pleas of a neglected, elderly woman were echoed by her parrot as they combed through her fetid home.
Police Lt. Eric Bonnette said the bird mimicked the plaintive words of 98-year-old Anne Copeland, haunting authorities as they searched the house, which reeked of rotting flesh and animal feces.
"Once we pulled the blanket from over him he would keep saying, 'Help. Help.' And then he would laugh," Bonnette said. They believe the laughter was an imitation of Copeland's adult daughter, who was charged with abuse and neglect resulting in death of a vulnerable adult.
Bonnette called it the most terrible case of neglect he has seen in 17 years of law enforcement work.
Copeland was found Monday evening covered with bed sores in a house in a community about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Charleston. She died the following day.
"What made it the worst was to see her lying there in so much pain with all those beds sores. No medical attention had been given to the woman for a long time," Bonnette said.
Daughter Gloria Park Clark, 62, who listed her mother's address as her residence, was in custody after a judge set a $3,000 cash bond Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if she had an attorney.
Police had responded to a report of elder abuse at the house in October, but no action was taken. Bonnette said he was investigating to see why.
He said Clark called an ambulance because her mother was having trouble breathing Monday evening. Police were called after it appeared there had been neglect.
Animal control workers took the parrot, seven dogs and several cats from the house.