Indiana Woman Allegedly Kept Ailing Husband in Squalid Bedroom For Two Years, Withheld Medication
The victim only left the room once, he alleged, and was fed the same meal every day
An Indiana woman allegedly kept her disabled husband prisoner in a squalid bedroom for two years, starving him and withholding his medication, PEOPLE confirms.
On Tuesday, Darlene K. Dickinson, 69, was charged with neglect of a dependent after authorities discovered her husband, Hugh Dickinson, living in “horrible” conditions, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
“There was trash and feces all over the floor and all over the furniture,” the court documents state. “Including the bed that Hugh sleeps in.”
Hugh, 71, was found wearing a dirty shirt and a soiled adult diaper. He appeared to weigh only 90 pounds, the documents state.
According to court documents, Hugh told authorities he had a stroke in 2000 that affected his speech. Three years ago, he had a sore on his leg that Darlene allegedly refused to clean. After about two months, Darlene allegedly finally took him to a hospital, where they amputated his leg, according to the court records.
He was allegedly kept in the room ever since, during which time Darlene allegedly refused to give him his medication, the records state. He said he allegedly only left the room once during those two years.
Neighbor Comes to the Rescue
“She’s an evil, evil woman,” Lisa Tiedemann, the Dickinsons’ neighbor who allegedly rescued Hugh, tells PEOPLE. “You know, I’m glad they arrested her but I feel so sad for her, because what makes a person do this? I don’t get it. I don’t get it.”
Tiedemann used to clean the couple’s Greenwood, Indiana, home after Darlene told her she was going through chemotherapy for stage 4-breast cancer and needed help around the house.
“I was never allowed to go back toward that part of the house,” Tiedemann says, adding that Darlene allegedly said her husband slept all day. “The more I questioned, the more lies she told.”
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When she finally saw Hugh, Tiedemann tells PEOPLE, “He was pitiful. You could tell she had just straightened him up just enough for me.”
That day, Tiedemann remembers the whole house full of flies, maggots and a stench so strong she felt sick. She alleges Darlene would keep a towel under the bedroom door to make sure the rest of the house didn’t smell.
Months later, on May 19, Tiedemann knocked on Hugh’s window while Darlene was getting radiation and told him she was calling authorities.
When authorities arrived, Hugh allegedly told police Darlene fed him only one meal from Meals on Wheels a day, with a warm Pepsi to drink, court documents state.
He told police, “She shut me out,” adding he allegedly had to sleep under his sheets to keep flies off him.
“You would never think that she was capable of something like this,” Tiedemann tells PEOPLE, adding that the couple’s children did not see their parents often and didn’t know about their father’s living conditions.
Hugh is currently staying with his son, Tiedemann says, and enjoys watching football.
“He’s doing awesome,” she says. “I saw him two weeks ago and he said I was his hero but I’m not. I tell him, ‘I’m your friend and I would do it again’ – I would do it for anybody.”
Dickinson is being held on a $2,400 bond and it is unclear at this time whether she has an attorney or not, court officials tell PEOPLE.