Several weeks ago, there was a report of a young, anorexic girl named Emily Errico, aged 25, whose mother was indicted of neglect. For whatever reason, I found this case horribly tragic with a variety of thoughts brought up. If you are not familiar with the case, police found Emily in full rigor mortis, in a "completely weakened state" after a 911 call was made by her mother in 2007. The police said it was difficult to navigate the area, because there were trash bags everywhere, including on windows and on Emily. She was found with a fabricated halter top out of a trash bag, sweatpants, and at a very low weight for her height.
Police said her parents were very controlling and fed her a diet of only granola bars and seltzer, allowing her to waste away. Despite the fact that Emily did see a nutritionist back in 2004 and a diagnosis of malnutrition was determined, not much follow up was made, especially since her father canceled her appointments.
Though Emily did complete a college degree and was "exceptionally bright" according to the prosecutor on her case, her parents continued to control her food intake by bringing meals to her. After graduating, she moved back home where they had complete control over her. This control was evident from her birth where she was kept in a crib as a toddler and not permitted to socially interact with peers. Neighbors even say they never saw her leave the house. Most did not even know she was living there at all.
I bring up this, not to point fingers at parents, though I do think her parents are certainly negligible for her death in this case. I know most parents are not like this, and this case is on the rare side. However, I do wonder about the nutritionist who didn't follow up. Did she not follow up, because eating disorder patients are notorious for canceling appointments? Was this just another young, underweight girl in the crowd? To me, (and of course I am only speculating) if these parents were as controlling as they seemed and maybe a bit odd too, weren't any red flags raised? It's really hard to say, and again, I'm not pointing fingers, just asking questions.
This reminds me of the time I was 16 and od'd. I actually called my therapist to cancel my appointment, telling her I was ill. Whatever intuition she may have sensed, she came to my house to check up on me, and of course, after finding me, called my mother, went to the ER, etc. My parents were forever thankful, but I know now that is like a one in a thousand occurrences since there are so many privacy laws nowadays.
I also wonder about the neighbors. These days, we are so afraid of being considered "too nosy," but what happens when a human or animal life is at stake? Where is the line drawn between what is too "private" and out of concern? It's similar to the cases which many of us have witnessed in stores of hearing stupid/hurtful/out of line comments said to young children/teens/adults about their body, their looks, their clothing, etc. We always wonder whether to speak up or stay silent. It really does become difficult to decide what to do. The line has to be treaded so carefully it seems.
Certainly, I don't have the answers to any of these questions, and I doubt professionals do either. I know I have struggled with the issue of what to say or do, whether to intervene or not. Ironically, as this article came out, the story of Jaycee Dugard hit the headlines. Though they are different, there are similar aspects to both cases. There are also many whys as well which may never be answered.
So what are your thoughts? Where do you tread the line?
Side note--father pled guilty of third degree neglect this year and faces three years probation and a psychological evaluation.
Note:--*Other related articles: Mom charged with neglect in adult daughter's death
Ermina Errico of Garwood indicted for neglect in conncetion with the death of her daughter
Invisible life: Learning from Emily Errico's anorexia death in Garwood
Following a hunch, solving a crime (how a mother's intuition helped free Jaycee)