Essie Weaver, dead from bedsores and infection, lived the last of her 83 years mostly in a wheelchair in a vermin-infested crack den where authorities believed she was raped.
Idora Smith, a widowed homemaker, died after living in a state-licensed foster home where she lay motionless for weeks, high on Haldol, while blisters and bedsores rotted her skin to the bone.
And Richard Daniels, a retarded paraplegic killed by a blow to the abdomen, spent his entire adult life in a state institution where no one noticed he was dying.
All were the victims of what authorities believe was blatant abuse or neglect.
Not one person was charged, prosecuted or punished.
A Miami Herald review of hundreds of Florida abuse and autopsy reports shows that in the past five years, dozens of frail and disabled adults have died sick, starved, ridden with bedsores, bruises and broken bones -- the silent casualties of abuse, neglect and a welfare system that did little to protect them.
"It's cruelty. It's disgusting," said Harriet Roberts Martin, granddaughter of Idora Smith. "I can't stand that my grandmother suffered and no one was made to pay for her neglect. She was dead. No one cared. Case closed."
Few find justice.
Despite Florida laws making adult abuse a felony, rarely has a caregiver gone to jail in the past five years for neglecting or abusing the frail and disabled to death.
In Dade County: Never.
In Broward, one case is pending.
Most of these deaths have been forgotten, filed away, their cases closed without action by police, prosecutors, pathologists and state welfare investigators.
Yet, the stories behind their deaths reveal the startling symptoms of a nation's health and social welfare system gone awry. More adults than ever are living at the mercy of others, many of them poor and sick, many without health insurance, all helpless to fight back when the standards of medical care fail them.
"What we're seeing is more neglect, people who don't get care, people who are left to languish, people who lay in their own feces all day, people who are forgotten and who die," said Deborah Sokolow, head of one of Florida's Long-term Ombudsman councils, empowered by the Legislature to investigate adult abuse.
"And who's listening? Who seems to care? No one. There's no muscle. There's no enforcement."
The Herald's investigation found a troubling string of deaths by alleged abuse or neglect over the past five years. Not one case was prosecuted. And some were never investigated.
They include, among others, the stories of:
* An 84-year-old woman who lived in an unlicensed boarding home for eight years until she was hospitalized because of malnourishment, mammoth bedsores, a broken leg and infection. The sores were so bad on her toes that doctors had to amputate them. One sore engulfed her right ear.
Cause of death: malnourishment, complications from the bedsores.
* A 26-year-old mentally retarded man, under the Florida welfare department's protective supervision, who spent much of his life tied up or caged by his mother. Despite a lengthy history of abuse reports against the mother and "an escalating pattern of neglect," state welfare workers never found a better place for him.
Cause of death: craniocerebral trauma. His skull was crushed -- while in his mother's care -- when he fell from a six-floor window just days before welfare workers claimed they were going move him.