Adams County police began investigating Mary Heller in January 2017. According to a report from Fox59, police received a 911 call from Heller claiming she had fallen in the bathroom and had been unable to get back up for nearly 20 hours.
A rescue team was able to retrieve Heller from the bathroom and treat her for her injuries, but reported to police that the 64-year-old’s two-story home had been in a state of extreme disarray and stunk of “rotting flesh.” Also found living with Heller in the home were two teenage girls. Both teens appeared to be pale and emaciated.
A cousin of the two girls instructed two women to take the girls to a local fast food place for something to eat, before taking them to a grocery store to restock the empty pantry. The women noted that the girls lacked in basic social skills and appeared to be pale, extremely thin, and unwashed.
Children’s services were called to further investigate the case. Social workers found that the windows had been covered in white butcher paper, clumps of black hair had been found in most of the rooms in the home, smelly brown stains were found covering the carpets, and the refrigerator had been broken at the time of their investigation.
Child protective services learned that the girls had been taken out of school at a young age in order for their mother to homeschool them, but that the woman had “long gave up on them.” The teens, reported to be age 15 and 19, were forced to live in isolation and only allowed to go outside in order to fetch the mail and the morning newspaper. They had no social skills to speak of and lacked the ability to do basic arithmetic. Heller also admitted she often failed to feed the girls.
Psychologists have determined that both girls suffer from severe trauma on account of their mother’s neglect and being forced to isolate themselves from society.
Concerned neighbors had contacted authorities about the living conditions of the sisters at least a year prior to the investigation. WBRC reports that both girls were coached on what to tell caseworkers and the investigation was closed before being reopened at the request of law enforcement.
Both girls have been taken into the custody of child protective services. Heller is facing three counts of neglect of a dependant.