When 90-year-old Della Cotton's health was failing, no one came to her aid, nor did they call a doctor when open sores appeared all over her body and she "cried out in pain nearly every night," Cook County prosecutors said.
The South Side woman died alone, covered in bugs and bed sores in December. This week, Cotton's 40-year-old granddaughter, her primary caregiver, was accused of death by neglect.
Nicole Falls, of the 400 block of West Marquette Road, appeared in Cook County Bond Court Thursday charged with elderly neglect or abuse that resulted in a homicide. She was ordered held on $750,000 bond by Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr.
As Cotton's power of attorney, Falls allegedly cashed her disability checks without seeking medical attention for her grandmother as her health continued to decline, said assistant Cook County State's Attorney Joell Zahr.
When Falls was arrested, she allegedly admitted to police that she did not seek medical care for Cotton but would give her Tylenol from "time to time," Zahr said.
Zahr said Falls "sought no medical help" even as Cotton stopped eating in her final days.
On Dec. 20, the day Cotton's suffering ceased, it was one of Falls' children who found her dead, Zahr said.
A funeral home came to collect Cotton's remain, but workers refused and instead called 911.
Police and firefighters found her body "covered with bedsores ... [and] maggots in the victim's hair and flies flying around the victim's body," Zahr said.
According to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, Cotton died of hypertension, arteriosclerosis and elder neglect based on the maggots, chemical burns and abrasions on her body. The medical examiner also reported that Cotton had skin ulcers and was underweight, her ribs protruding from her body.
"It was considered highly possible that the stress resulting from these injuries contributed to the victim's hypertension," Zahr said.
Witnesses to the abuse allegedly told police that Falls did nothing even when they insisted that the woman belonged in a hospital.
"Witnesses on many occasions observed the victim's body covered in sores and the presence of maggots all over the victim as well as flies by the victim's body," Zahr said.
A man who identified himself as a family member showed up at the courthouse following Falls' bond hearing asking about her. But he declined to talk about the charges against her.
Falls was convicted of battery in 1998, but has no other criminal record.