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Disabled mom, son tied to bloody mattress. Deputies left them there — twice, sheriff says

James Thatcher, 28, left, Chelsea Demille, 30, and Sandra Wombles, 19, are accused of holding Thatcher’s mentally disabled mother and older brother against their will. Two Nye County sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant are on leave pending an investigation they twice visited the home and failed to help the captive mom and son.
James Thatcher, 28, left, Chelsea Demille, 30, and Sandra Wombles, 19, are accused of holding Thatcher’s mentally disabled mother and older brother against their will. Two Nye County sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant are on leave pending an investigation they twice visited the home and failed to help the captive mom and son. Nye County Sheriff's Office

For months, a Nevada man kept his 52-year-old mother and 34-year-old brother, both disabled, tied to a blood-stained mattress in a locked room in a scheme to cash their Social Security checks, reported the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.

On Nov. 16, the mother and son escaped by prying open a window and flagged down a neighbor for help, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal. Three people in the home were arrested.

Two days later, the Sheriff’s Office suspended two deputies and a sergeant after discovering they had earlier visited the home —twice — and done nothing, the office reported Tuesday on Facebook.

“On both occasions, deputies responded and the victims of this case were left in those circumstances,” the Sheriff’s Office reported in a video statement.

All three were placed on administrative leave for an internal affairs investigation of misconduct, the Sheriff’s Office reported. No other information was released.

The mother and son, both with mental disabilities, had been kept locked in a small bedroom of a Pahrump, Nevada, apartment with limited bathroom breaks and one bottle of water per day for three months, reported KTNV.

A video camera was left in the room to monitor them, according to the station.

The two were kept handcuffed and bound to a blood-stained mattress in the room, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

After their Nov. 16 escape, the mother and son were dehydrated and possibly suffering from malnutrition, reported the publication.

“The female victim had rope tied around her wrists and ankles,” said Sgt. Adam Tippetts in the Sheriff’s Office video on Facebook. Both suffered from poor hygiene, Tippetts said.

Deputies arrested the woman’s younger son, James Thatcher, 28, his girlfriend, Chelsea Demille, 30, and their nanny, Sandra Wombles, 19, reported KTNV. All three face charges of elder abuse and false imprisonment. Thatcher and Demille also face kidnapping charges.

The deputies and sergeant were suspended Nov. 18 after a check of Sheriff’s Office records revealed they had twice been called to the apartment before the mother and son escaped, but took no action, reported the department.

Neighbor Whitney McBride said she’d twice called the Sheriff’s Office after the mother had earlier climbed out the window and knocked on her door to ask for help, reported KVVU. Both times the woman returned home after talking to McBride.

McBride said she had left before deputies arrived, not wanting to become involved, but later went to a sheriff’s office with her fiance to inquire about the situation, according to the station. Deputies eventually talked to her fiance on the phone and told him things were fine, McBride said.

On Nov. 16, the woman came to McBride’s door again following her final escape, reported KVVU.

“She asked if she could hide,” McBride said, according to the station. “She walked into the house and I called 911.”

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. (Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy)

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