Crime & Courts
Lakeland woman charged with manslaughter in disabled son's death
A Lakeland woman was arrested and charged today with manslaughter in the April death of her disabled son, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Janet Wade Stevens, 45, 2212 Weber St., was served a warrant today at the Polk County Jail, where she has been held since April 22 in the death of her 22-year-old son Michael. She was previously charged with tampering with evidence, aggravated abuse of a disabled adult, and exploitation of a disabled adult. On April 1, Polk County deputies responded to the Stevens' home after Michael Stevens, who was born mentally challenged, non-verbal, and with epilepsy, was found dead. Investigators determined Janet Stevens, who was his primary caregiver, had not taken him to the doctor in more than a year and had not had his epilepsy medication filled in over a year. An affidavit said Michael Stevens' body had diaper rash and was covered with flies, and the carpet in his bedroom was completely stained.In an interview, the affidavit said, Janet Stevens admitted she had moved Michael Stevens' body from her bedroom to his bedroom, cut off his pants and adult diaper and put them in a garbage can outside. She also admitted she and her daughter also cleaned the bedroom before calling authorities, the affidavit said Deputies said she admitted that she had not changed his adult diapers or taken him out of his bedroom in at least two days. Family members said Stevens refused assistance because she didn't want to give up Michael Stevens' disability check, according to the affidavit.
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