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Grandmother Found Dead With Maggots In Hair Was Victim Of Elder Abuse: Prosecutors

Nicole Falls, 40, is charged in connection with her grandmother's death. (Chicago Police)

Nicole Falls, 40, is charged in connection with her grandmother’s death. (Chicago Police)

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(STMW) — A South Side woman has been charged with elderly neglect after her malnourished, bedridden grandmother was discovered dead with maggots in her hair, bed sores, skin ulcers and chemical burns caused by lying in her own urine.

Nicole Falls, listed as a Chicago Public Schools cook in a police report, never sought medical help when Della Cotton cried out in pain nearly every night for the last few months of her life, Cook County prosecutors said.

Instead, Falls allegedly gave the 90-year-old Cotton Tylenol from “time to time,” the Sun-Times is reporting.

When police and firefighters came to the family’s apartment on Dec. 20, they found Cotton’s lifeless, discolored body covered in bedsores, assistant state’s attorney Joell Zahr said. The senior citizen allegedly had maggots in her hair and flies buzzed around her corpse.

Falls, Cotton’s primary caretaker, had called a funeral home to take the body but when officials saw Cotton’s deteriorated condition, the funeral home refused to accept the body and called 911, Zahr said.

An autopsy conducted by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office revealed that Cotton died of hypertension, arteriosclerosis and “elder neglect.”

Doctors found chemical burns and abrasions on her face, neck and genital area, where the injuries were most severe, Zahr said. Cotton also had skin ulcers on her buttocks and her ribs protruded from her underweight body, Zahr said, adding that it was highly possible that the Cotton’s injuries contributed to her hypertension.

Cotton, who had adopted Falls’ mother, moved in with Falls’ family in the 400 block of West Marquette four to five years ago, Zahr said.

Three to four years ago, Cotton suffered a broken leg that rendered her homebound and unable walk. Over the last year, she was bedridden, Zahr said.

Falls, 40, had power of attorney over Cotton’s matters and routinely cashed the elderly woman’s monthly disability checks, Zahr said.

Falls allegedly admitted to police her grandmother’s condition deteriorated over the past year and that she ignored others when they told her Cotton belonged in a hospital.

During the last week of her life, Cotton stopped eating and became less responsive. Still, Falls didn’t seek medical help, Zahr said.

The day Cotton died, one of Falls’ children told her when she came back home from work that Cotton was unresponsive and not moving, Zahr said.

Falls, who wore a gray sweater, black coat and slacks at her bond hearing Thursday, has a prior battery conviction for which she received supervision.

Assistant public defender Marijane Placek noted there were other adults in the residence where Cotton died as well as the three-month delay before Cotton’s arrest.

Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered Falls held on a $750,000 bond for elder neglect resulting in a homicide.

CPS officials couldn’t immediate confirm if Falls was employed with the agency.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)