ELIZABETH—Ermina Errico, a Garwood resident accused of controlling her daughter’s life, forcing her to wear trash bags as clothing, pled guilty in Union County Superior Court this morning to neglect, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
This morning, Errico, 62, pled guilty to one count of third degree neglect in the January 2007 death of her daughter, said Romankow. She was indicted on the charge in August.
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 investigation.
The medical examiner’s autopsy later revealed that Emily Errico died from a combination of anorexia, nervosa and malnutrition, according to the investigation. She was 5’7 and weighed just 97 pounds.
On Monday in court, Ermina Errico admitted that she was her daughter’s primary caretaker and was responsible for the care of the house and in control of the family’s food intake, said Assistant Prosecutor James Donnelly, who handled the case.
“Mrs. Errico said that she controlled the food that was prepared for and given to Emily,” said Donnelly. “She knew that Emily was suffering from a low body weight and psychological problems. She admitted that she was aware of Emily’s weakened state because of malnutrition.”
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.
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.
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.
Under terms of the plea with prosecutors, Ermina Errico will be placed on probation and will be ordered to undergo psychological treatment as a condition of probation. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18 before Union County Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim.
“This plea does not bring Emily back, but it ensures that her parents get the help that it appears they desperately need,” said Romankow.
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