WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) — A Washington County woman is accused of locking her sister in a wooden cage with a dirty mattress and little-to-no medical care.
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Leona Biser, 51, of Vestaburg, has been charged with abuse of a dependent person, unlawful restraint and several other charges.
Investigators say Biser kept her sister in a “man-made cell” that sat in the living room of their home on Sixth Street in Vestaburg.
Officials responded to the home in November 2019 and found 53-year-old Loretta Lancaster in the cage kneeling alongside a baby’s bottle and the dirty mattress.
The authorities said they found dog feces on the kitchen floor and in the living room.
My Office has charged Leona Bisler with neglect and false imprisonment.
Bisler claimed to be caring for her sister Loretta, but was actually keeping her locked in a cage – away from running water and her meds.
Loretta is now recovering, with the support of my Office behind her.
— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) January 16, 2020
The home had no running water, and Lancaster was not receiving her prescribed medication.
“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,” Shapiro said in an issued 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.”
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) January 15, 2020
Lancaster was transported to the hospital, suffering from a urinary tract infection and rhabdomyolysis.
Doctors told police her body was covered in wounds and warts.
Officials say Lancaster’s condition has improved while at Monongahela Valley Hospital. She’s regained some mobility and she is working with a speech therapist.
KDKA spoke Thursday to a nephew who lives nearby.
He said didn’t know anything about what was happening, but he feels his aunt didn’t want to put her sister in an assisted living facility for fear she would be neglected because of her significant health issues.
“I hope it’s not true. Anybody can make allegations. From what I know, they have a good heart. But you know people make mistakes,” said Anthony Gilpin, nephew of the sisters.
The family said the sisters’ father and brother died a little over a year ago and that’s when the caregiving responsibilities fell to the younger sister.
Biser’s son answered the door on Thursday but wouldn’t address the allegations.