Woman with autism found in filthy room, covered in bed bug bites - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Woman with autism found in filthy room, covered in bed bug bites

Julia Carol Turnage, arrested for neglect of a vulnerable adult. Source: MBPD Julia Carol Turnage, arrested for neglect of a vulnerable adult. Source: MBPD

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A 31-year-old woman living with autism was found unconscious with bruises, a scratch, and bug bites, in a bed covered with dead bed bugs, in a filthy and cluttered room, according to a Myrtle Beach Police report. The 55-year-old woman living with her was arrested Saturday and charged with unlawful neglect of a vulnerable adult.

After receiving reports of abuse and neglect from the Department of Social Services, police responded on Friday an apartment in the 1400 block of Ocean Boulevard where the victim and 55-year-old Julia Carol Turnage live, the report states.

The responding officer and a DSS specialist found the victim unresponsive, laying face-down in a bed filled with dead bed bugs, the report states. Turnage told police the victim cannot speak due to her living with autism, and she was responsive because she had been up for three days with no sleep.

The officer asked about the bite marks, bruises and scratch on the victim. Turnage said she had contacted maintenance about the bed bugs, but they had not done anything. Turnage also said the victim falls a lot because she cannot keep her balance, and the bruise under her right eye was a blood clot that was always there.

Neighbors living at the motel say they've seen Turnage strike the victim and over the past month, the abuse seemed to get worse. One neighbor, Teddy Hudson, felt he had to step up and called police. 

"I've seen the lady slap her, snatch her, punch her in the back," Hudson said. 

Police questioned Turnage about why the victim not bathing because she was “dirty and smelled sour,” according to the report. Turnage said that she had washed the victim a day and a half earlier, but police stated that it appeared the bathtub had not been used recently.

Neighbors say the victim was looking unhealthy and they didn't think her diapers were being changed often. Hudson said neighbors witnessed the victim drink Pine-Sol. 

"She'd hand her the bottle of Pine-Sol, she'd drink it and put it down," Hudson explained. 

A worker at the motel said Turnage was not only the victim's caregiver, but a relative and the two have been living in the motel since June.

The report states officers also questioned Turnage about the victim’s medications, and while Turnage said that someone allegedly stole some of the victim’s pills, Turnage had not filed a police report for the alleged theft.

The DSS specialist then asked when the last time the victim ate anything, and Turnage said the victim had a meal four hours before police and DSS had arrived.

Neighbors say the victim seemed irritated, and even though she couldn't speak, she knew how to tell them she was hungry, 

"Pick up a spoon, hand it to my wife. That's how she would tell us she was hungry," Hudson said. 

Because the victim was living in unsuitable conditions, was apparently not being bathed regularly, had bed bug bites all over her body, and appeared undernourished, police determined there was probable cause to take the victim into emergency protective custody.

The victim was taken to a nearby hospital, where a nurse said the victim appeared malnourished, and had a broken left toe that did not heal properly because it had not been treated.

On Saturday, Turnage was arrested by Myrtle Beach Police and charged with neglect of a vulnerable adult. She was taken to J. Reuben Long on Sunday where she remains incarcerated, as of Monday morning. Bond was set at $15,000.

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