CENTERVILLE BOROUGH, Pa. — The woman accused of keeping her sister in a wooden cage with only a dirty mattress and little to no medical care faced a judge Friday.
Leona Biser, 51, of Vestaburg, Washington County, had a preliminary hearing on charges of neglect of a care-dependent person, abuse of a care-dependent person, recklessly endangering another person, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment.
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The charges came after officials said Biser kept her 53-year-old sister in a man-made cell that was in the home’s living room.
Police said they found a baby’s bottle that appeared to contain milk in the cage when they arrived.
Channel 11 reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services regarding the investigation. An agency spokesperson sent Channel 11 the following statement:
“The Department of Human Services (DHS) is committed to the protection of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities. The departments of Aging and Human Services jointly operate a 24-hour hotline (1-800-490-8505) for anyone to report concern for the well-being and safety of any adult with a physical or mental disability. Complaints may be reported anonymously, and all complaints are quickly evaluated to determine next steps. DHS can assume emergency guardianship of an individual only in the most extreme circumstances. In any situation, evaluation is ongoing and action steps can change as circumstances evolve.”
“In Pennsylvania, Adult Protective Services are managed by a contracted agency. When DHS staff became aware of this specific incident in November, DHS worked quickly to determine that circumstances warranted the emergency removal of the individual to ensure her safety and coordinated with the Attorney General’s Office on Nov. 22, 2019 to accomplish this objective. Subsequently, the individual was appointed a permanent guardian. DHS continues to monitor this individual’s well-being and will make referrals for services and supports as necessary.”
“DHS is committed to constant evaluation of its programs, services, and contracted partners, and the department will update its systems and best practices for internal staff and contracted partners as often as necessary. We are looking at this case to determine why earlier intervention did not occur and will apply any lessons learned to future investigations.”
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