Local News

Hope Mills woman charged with abuse after mom's death

Posted March 24, 2011 8:14 a.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2011 9:40 a.m. EDT

— A Hope Mills woman faces abuse charges after her elderly mother was found dead lying in feces and covered in maggots, a spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said.

Spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said that Nancy Byrd Lewis, 58, called 911 on Nov. 19, claiming that her mother, 79-year-old Hazel Tolbert Byrd, was unresponsive in their home at 2885 Chicken Foot Road. EMS crews found that Byrd was dead.

Byrd was filthy, lying in several days worth of feces and covered in maggots from her waist to her feet, Tanna said. She had numerous ulcers, her hair was matted, and the skin between her toes had grown together.

Investigators said that Lewis admitted to being her mother's caregiver. Lewis said that a doctor gave Byrd medicine for diabetes and high blood pressure in 2005, but she never took her mother to the doctor again after that diagnosis, according to Tanna.

Lewis was charged late Wednesday with domestic abuse, neglect and exploitation of disabled or elderly adults. She was released from the Cumberland County jail after posting a $5,000 unsecured bond.
Byrd's obituary states that she died "while being lovingly cared for" at Lewis's home.
Byrd was born in Mount Airy, and "one of her favorite childhood memories" was walking to church with Andy Griffith, star of the TV show set in a fictional version of her hometown, according to her obituary.
She was survived by a second daughter and two brothers.