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Disabled woman found imprisoned for a year in New York home

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Queens couple accused of locking a partially paralyzed former neighbor in their apartment for more than a year, beating her and stealing her benefits, remained held without bail on Wednesday on kidnapping and other charges, authorities said.

The battered woman, 58, who suffered a broken arm, ribs and a dislocated shoulder, was discovered by police responding to a 911 call placed by her niece after being unable to reach her by phone for months, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Police found the victim locked in an empty room that could only be opened from the outside, lying huddled on the floor, bleeding from the head and malnourished," Brown said.

The bare room had no bed and only sheets of fabric covering the windows.

Patrick Donovan, 42, and Mae Washington, 63, were ordered held without bail on charges of kidnapping, assault, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, Brown said. They face life in prison if convicted of all charges.

The victim, who was partially paralyzed on her left side, was a former neighbor of the couple in the Rockaway Beach section of Queens before she moved into an assisted living facility. The couple convinced her to move in with them on January 1, 2011 to save money.

It wasn't long before they began to abuse the woman, hitting her with a cane and their fists, locking her in the unfurnished room, binding her hands and legs and placing tape over her mouth, Brown said.

They took all Social Security and other benefits from the woman, who out of fear gave Washington power of attorney, and spent the money on themselves, Brown said.

"The defendants are accused of turning the victim's life into a living nightmare," the district attorney said.

The couple claimed the woman's injuries were due to her falling off a toilet.

(Reporting By Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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