The son of the Indiana woman accused of holding her disabled husband prisoner in a filthy bedroom for two years tells PEOPLE his mother has long been abusive.
“When it comes to my mother, I have not one, single word of a positive thing to say. … She’s horrible. A terrible person. Very much like the movie Mommie Dearest,” Hugh Dickinson, Jr. says of his mother, Darlene Dickinson, comparing her to Joan Crawford in the 1981 biographical film about the actress’s abusive relationship with her daughter.
“My mom even … dressed up like Joan Crawford with a wire hanger and scared the hell out of us and thought it was funny because she was treating us the same exact [expletive] way,” he alleges.
On Tuesday, 69-year-old Darlene was charged with neglect of a dependent after authorities allegedly discovered her husband, Hugh Dickinson Sr., living in a room strewn with trash and feces, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Hugh Jr.’s sister, Cindi Moutschk, describes her mother to PEOPLE as a “narcissist” with “psycho-craziness” tendencies, and says she corroborates everything brother Hugh says about their mother.
Hugh Sr., 71, was allegedly found wearing a dirty shirt and a soiled adult diaper, the documents state. Dickinson says his father weighed just 88 pounds and was “close to death” when police found him.
Hugh Jr., 46, says his parents returned to Indiana from Las Vegas in 2006 and, soon, Darlene allegedly began isolating herself and her husband from family and friends.
He alleges his mother would seek attention by claiming her father was in danger, but he and his sister always found him well. Soon, he alleges, Darlene had cut herself and Hugh completely off from family. He alleges his mother had a “brainwashing effect” on his father.
“She’s been an abuser her whole life and she knows that my sister and I have been trying to get our father to sign his power of attorney to us so we could basically cut her out and keep him safe,” he alleges. “He wasn’t willing to do that.”
Hugh Sr. told authorities that he had allegedly been kept in the room since he had his leg amputated three years ago, according to court documents. He alleged he had a sore on his leg that Darlene refused to clean, and when she allegedly took him to the hospital, doctors had no choice but to remove the leg.
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Court records allege Darlene refused to give him his medication and Hugh said he only left the squalid room once during those two years.
“It was unreal,” Hugh Jr. tells PEOPLE of the room. “The smell, you couldn’t see! The smell blocked your vision!”
The documents allege Darlene only fed his father one meal from Meals on Wheels a day, with a Pepsi.
“I’m So Glad I’ve Got Him Back in My Life”
Hugh Jr. says he is glad to see his mother charged for her alleged crimes. He adds that he and his sister had a “demented” childhood, noting that his mother was allegedly “everything but sexually abusive.”
He recalled a situation at a bank with his mother when he was just 8 years old.
“My mom had a bunch of coins and I asked her if I could have a 50 cent piece because I’ve never had one before,” he alleges. “I still have the scar on my wrist where she took a cigarette and burned me on the wrist.”
“She burned me, gave me the 50 cents and when I got home with the 50 cent piece the ice cream man came to town. She beat me … for spending that 50 cent piece on ice cream.”
Hugh Jr. describes his father, who now lives with him, he says, as a “wonderful,” “charming” and “gentle” man.
“I’m so glad I’ve got him back in my life,” he said, gushing that his father has gained 45 pounds since living with him and his family.
As for his mother, he says, “My mother is the most bullying, controlling, narcissistic sociopath I’ve ever seen in my life, on the highest level,” he says. “It was nothing but manipulation and control and walking on egg shells and not knowing what’s coming.”
He adds: “[You never knew] if the monster’s gonna come in the middle of the night and drag you out of bed – you just didn’t know what was gonna happen.”
Darlene is being held on a $2,400 bond and it is unclear at this time whether she has an attorney, according to court officials.
• With reporting by HARRIET SOKMENSUER