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Twin sisters charged in mother's death

April 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Twin sisters accused in the death of their 43-year-old mother have been arrested. The mother was in poor health and the sisters were allegedly responsible for her care.Detectives investigated the case for two years, interviewing medical experts and checked health records. They concluded that the woman died because she was neglected.

The victim was found dead in a bedroom at home on Feb. 27, 2007. She was naked and the room was filthy, littered with urine and feces. Detectives say Naomi Mendez was emaciated, weighing only 78 pounds.

"She had a diabetic condition, she had a host of other medical problems as well, but she needed daily insulin, she needed help eating, bathing, and basic life functions, and she wasn't receiving that care and ultimately that led to her death," said Sgt. Trevor Gaumer from the Covina Police Department.

Police arrested Mendez's twin 20-year-old daughters, Jasmine and Justine Rosales, on Wednesday. They say the women neglected the victim, who could barely speak or eat. They apparently didn't make any effort to help their mother.

"It just makes me sad, especially around here in Covina, everybody is really friendly so I'm surprised that they did that to her," said neighbor Elizabeth Alcala.

Alcala has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years. She says the family never spoke with anyone and people rarely saw them.

"Everything seemed really quiet," said Alcala. "You never notice any activities or anything so I would never suspect anything happening like that."

The home where the woman died is now empty. The family moved out a while back. Police say the investigation took so long because it's very complex.

"It also involved a lot of medical expertise, from the time that the coroner made the determination that it was a homicide case," said Sgt. Gaumer. "It involved backtracking, getting a lot of medical history, dealing with medical professionals, meetings with the DA's, and all those things have taken a lot of time to put together."

The sisters have each been charged with a felony count of elder or dependent adult abuse resulting in death in connection with the 2007 death.

They are being held in jail, with bail set at $1 million. Arraignment is scheduled for Friday.


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