ELIZABETH—For more than two decades, a Garwood woman dictated the terms of her daughter’s life, controlling what she ate and forced her daughter to wear trash bags as clothing, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
On Wednesday, a Union County Grand Jury indicted Ermina Errico, 62, with third degree neglect in the January 2007 death of her daughter, said Romankow.
It was on Jan. 29, 2007 when police responded to a 911 call made from the Errico’s house. Upon their arrival, the officers were unable to use the front door of the home because it was blocked by bags of trash. Inside, they found the body of 25-year-old Emily Errico in a bedroom off the kitchen, said Romankow.
Emily Errico was in full rigor mortis and was wearing just a plastic trash bag fashioned into a halter-top and a pair of sweatpants when officers found her, according to the indictment.
The medical examiner’s autopsy later revealed that Emily Errico died from a combination of anorexia nervosa and malnutrition, according to the indictment.
She was 5’7 and weighed just 97 pounds.
“The autopsy findings support the fact that the victim was in a significantly weakened state that was recognized and ignored by her parents,” said Romankow.
Detective Jorge Jiminez of the Union County Homicide Task Force spent several months conducting an investigation into the death of Emily Errico and found, among other things, that the victim was kept in a crib for most of her toddler years and later in life was fed a controlled amount of food by her mother.
“She was never permitted to interact socially with other children,” said Romankow. “While she proved to be an exceptionally bright student and graduated from Kean University, but moved home upon graduation and back under the control of her parents.”
Once Emily Errico was back in the house, her mother continued to exercise extraordinary control over her, according to the investigation.
“She was not free to leave her room, let alone the house because her mother sat would sit like a guard outside of her room on a constant basis,” said Romankow.
Ermina Errico also forced her daughter wear trash bags as clothing, according to the indictment.
All of these actions combined, prosecutors allege that Emily Errico’s health was severely compromised due to her parent’s actions.
In 2004, she visited a nutritionist with her father, who diagnosed malnutrition and recommended follow-up visits.
Those appointments were later cancelled by the victim’s father. It was the last time before her death that Emily Errico left the house.
In the months leading up to her death, police obtained statements that indicate that Emily Ericco could be heard “thumping down” onto the floor as if she had little or no muscle control, according to the indictment.
Union County Assistant Prosecutor James Donnelly will be handling the case.
Earlier this year, Emily Errico’s father, Edward, pled guilty to third degree neglect in the case and was sentenced to probation and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation.
Ermina Errico will have her first court appearance in the coming days.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!