The office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General filed charges last month against 51-year-old Leona Biser for the way that she had reportedly been caring for her 53-year-old sister.
“This defendant professed to be caring for her sister when, in fact, the home was in deplorable condition, had no running water, and the victim was not getting her prescribed medicines,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. “We fight to protect those who cannot protect themselves. And our agents have made sure the victim has received needed care and will no longer have to suffer daily living in a cage.”
According to reports, officers responded to the residence in November 2019 and found Loretta Lancaster kneeling inside of a cage in the living room of the residence with a bottle and a dirty mattress.
WPXI reports that the criminal complaint stated that when officers asked Biser about her sister's living conditions that she told them that she kept her sister in “an enclosure due to her constantly falling, and in doing so prevents her from getting injured.”
Lancaster was transported to Monongahela Valley Hospital where she was treated for a urinary tract infection and rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that can be caused by infection. Doctors reportedly also informed police that her body was covered in wounds and warts.
According to the attorney general's press release, Lancaster's condition has improved and she has regained some mobility. She is working with a speech therapist.
Family members told KDKA that a little over a year ago, the sisters' father and brother died and that was when care of Lancaster transferred to Biser. According to Anthony Gilpin, nephew of the sisters, Lancaster's mental capacity is that of an infant. He stated that she can neither communicate nor use the restroom on her own.
“Sometimes, people try to do what’s best and take on too much and don’t realize what they’re doing until it’s too late,” he said.
On January 15th, Biser was charged with neglect of a care dependent person, abuse of a care dependent person, recklessly endangering another person, unlawful restraint, and false imprisonment. Biser is due back in court for her formal arraignment on February 27th after waiving her right for a preliminary hearing on January 24th.