SEATTLE -- An Auburn woman accused of neglecting her 70-year-old mother such that maggots were crawling into a leg wound was charged with criminal mistreatment of a dependent person.

According to court documents, 46-year-old Sherrie Morton is jailed with bail set at $150,000.

Charging papers say Morton called 911 earlier this month after a friend threatened to call. Deputies and medics found the elderly woman in a soiled bed covered in maggots. A team of medics and firefighters dressed in hazardous materials uniforms took over an hour to remove the elderly woman from the home and transported her to Valley Medical in Renton for treatment.

Morton told police she was her mother's primary caregiver and had been caring for her adequately. She said it took hours to change her 400-pound mother's diaper, which she said she last did two days previous. At that time, she said she had noticed a red split in her mother's right knee, but it looked okay and there were no maggots. Days later she noticed her mother's leg was covered in maggots and tried to clean them off.

A friend told Morton to call 911 immediately when she discovered Morton's mother moaning in pain in bed with sheets filthy and covered with feces and hundreds of maggots covering multiple open sores on both legs. The scene was like a horror movie, the friend told police.

When asked why it took her five hours to call 911, Morton said she was afraid she was going to get into trouble. Later, she admitted she was picking maggots out of her mother's open sore on her leg 4 days before she called 911.

A King County sheriff's detective, Marylisa Priebe-Olson, wrote in court papers a paramedic said the maggots may have saved the woman's life by eating rotting skin and slowing the infection. Prosecutors believe the victim had been infested with maggots for at least 10 days.

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