A Pennsylvania woman was sentenced to nearly two years in jail after pleading guilty to neglect and abuse after locking up her older sister, who has special needs, inside a wooden homemade cage, prosecutors said.
Leona Biser, 52, confessed to keeping her sister sister, Loretta Lancaster, 54, in a wooden cage with a filthy mattress laid out in the living room of their Vestaburg home, which was lined with feces and swarming with bugs and snakes.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the home a 'house of horrors' not fit for anyone to live in and which had no bathroom or running water.
'What Leona Biser did to her sister is unforgivable, but today's plea is a step towards justice,' Shapiro said in a statement on Thursday.
Lancaster, who is said to have the mental capacity of an infant, was removed from the home and taken to the hospital in early 2020, where she was treated for a urinary tract infection and Rhabdomyolysis, a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the breakdown of muscle tissue.
The AG's office said Lancaster's condition has improved significantly and she has regained some mobility. She is also working with a speech therapist and getting the medication she needed that Biser had been allegedly withholding.
Adult Protective Services first went to the house in August 2019 when they discovered the horrendous conditions the pair were living in.
Police said they found Lancaster in a kneeling position inside the cage and that her nephew was kneeling beside her.
But it wasn't for another three months when the agent returned, this time bringing a doctor, and it was found that Lancaster was unable to even stand up or walk.
It then took a further three weeks before the Attorney General's office got involved and summoned an ambulance to take the woman to hospital according to WPXI,
Family members say things took a turn for the worse after the sisters' mother had died in 2018.
The sisters' nephew, Anthony Gilpin, said Lancaster had the mental capacity of an infant, unable to communicate or use the bathroom by herself.
Gilpin claimed that the cage was put up for the woman's 'own safety' so that she didn't hurt herself.
Police said they found a baby's bottle that appeared to contain milk in the cage when they arrived.
'I don't want to believe it's true,' he said. 'Sometimes, people try to do what's best and take on too much and don't realize what they're doing until it's too late.'
When officers asked Biser about her sister's living conditions, she told them she kept her in 'an enclosure due to her constantly falling, and that in doing so prevented her from getting injured,' according to a police criminal complaint.
Biser's prison sentence will be followed by two years of probation.