A 37-year-old woman is facing murder and abuse charges after police found a “horrific” scene at the apartment she lived with her paraplegic husband, who died last week from severe neglect, police said.
Dormanicia Lawson has been charged with murder, two counts of dependent abuse and a count of child abuse, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
Concord police Cpl. Christopher Blakely said the case came to the attention of investigators after Lawson reported around 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 30 that her husband, 36-year-old Mark Fulgham, was having difficulty breathing.
Blakely said nurses at John Muir Medical Center, where Fulgham was taken, discovered that he was malnourished and dehydrated to such an extent that his bones were severely pronounced.
Fulgham, who was pronounced dead a day later, also had infected sores and maggots on his body.
“It was horrific. … (It was) the most severe case of neglect that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been an officer here for 10 years.”
Upon being notified of the man’s state, police began to investigate by contacting Lawson at her apartment, where Fulgham, her 19-year-old autistic son and another 11-year-old child lived.
There, the dilapidated state of the residence was made immediately apparent, Blakely said:
“You could just smell the foul odor coming from the apartment as soon as she opened the door. … There were cockroaches on the floor, fly traps hanging all over the walls and even bugs on the ceiling.”
Blakely also described rotten food left in the refrigerator and general clutter in the two-bedroom apartment where Lawson lived with Fulgham and the two children, one of who was reportedly covered in feces:
“I just can’t imagine how they were living like that.”
Blakely said it isn’t clear what the family’s source of income was, as police have determined that Lawson wasn’t working.
Child Protective Services took the 11-year-old child, Blakely said.
The manager of the apartment building, located in the 1700 block of Laguna Street, is working to make the unit habitable again, Blakely said.
Lawson was arrested by Concord police at 6:50 a.m. on Dec. 30 after officers examined the apartment, and was later charged by prosecutors. She’s scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in a Martinez courtroom.