NY Police: Partially paralyzed woman beaten, held captive for months

Story highlights

  • Police: The couple convinced the woman to room with them to save money
  • They beat her and kept her locked in an empty room, authorities say
  • Afraid, she handed over control of her money to them, the D.A.'s office say
  • She is found with broken ribs, a broken arm and other wounds
Malnourished, bloodied, and bruised.
That's how authorities say they found a 58-year-old partially paralyzed woman who was held against her will in a Queens, New York, apartment by a couple who cashed her social security checks.
Prosecutors say Patrick Donovan, 42, and Mae Washington, 63, lured the victim from an assisted living facility, convincing their one-time neighbor to rent a room in their apartment to save money.
From the time she moved in on January 1, 2011 until last week when officers found her, the woman was repeatedly beaten; had her hands, legs and mouth bound with tape; forced to clean up after the couple's dog and cats despite her partial paralysis; and locked in an empty room that could only be opened from the outside, authorities said.
Afraid, the woman -- who has not been identified -- handed power of attorney for her finances to Washington, and the couple used her Social Security checks to buy things for themselves, the Queens District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
"The defendants are accused of turning the victim's life into a living nightmare," District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "Once out of the safe and secure environment of her assisted living facility, the victim was allegedly betrayed by the defendants whom she thought she could trust."
The woman's niece, who had not heard from her for months, called police, concerned for her safety.
A responding officer found the woman huddled on the floor in one corner of the bare room -- her arm bruised and the back of her head bloodied, prosecutors said.
Doctors found she had multiple broken ribs, a broken arm, a dislocated shoulder, and lacerations consistent with injuries from a beating, authorities said. She was also malnourished.
X-rays found the woman had several fractures that were never properly treated. In fact, the woman had been taken to the doctor only once during her confinement, prosecutors said.
But instead of treating her injuries, the doctor prescribed drugs to increase her weight -- and the couple never filled the prescription, the D.A.'s office said.
Donovan and Washington were charged with kidnapping, assault, and unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person. If convicted, they could face up to 25 years to life in prison.
The allegations caught some of their neighbors by surprise.
"We see them come and go but we never thought nothing, nothing like that of them," Louis Butler told CNN affiliate WABC. "You never know, like I said, you never know."
Agnes Day, who lives in the apartment below the couple, called the accusations "deplorable."
"How could people be like that?" she told the station. "Disgusting."
The pair remains in jail without bail until their next court date on April 5.
CNN has not been able to confirm the names of attorneys representing them.