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Desert Hills Couple Charged With Murder in Death of Mentally Disabled Relative

A Desert Hills couple has been charged with murder after the dead body of a 51-year-old relative was found emaciated in their backyard last summer.

John and Tara Chesser were arrested Monday after a grand jury indictment was returned charging the couple with the murder of 51-year-old James Chesser -- the brother of John Chesser, who suffered from severe Down Syndrome, according to court documents obtained by New Times..

Chesser's body was found in a casita in his brother's backyard last July. Prosecutors say he'd been dead for several days.

Chesser, who had the mental capacity of a 9-year-old because of his mental illness, was living under the care of his brother and sister-in-law after his mother died of Alzheimer's Disease in 2006.

The Chessers, however, allegedly did an awful job at caring for their vulnerable relative.

During a doctor's visit before his death, nurses were concerned that he'd lost nearly 50 pounds, dropping from 160 to 107 pounds.

At the time of death, Chesser weighed a scant 80 pounds, according to authorities.

"His body was very unkempt; he had worn the same pair of socks for so long that his feet had callused where they were touching the ground," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery told Fox 10 news.

The medical examiner determined that Chesser's death was caused by dehydration and malnutrition.

Both John and Tara Chesser have been charged with one count each of second-degree murder and two counts each of abuse of a vulnerable adult. 


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