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  • The victim died just weeks after cops found her badly abused in a van
  • The victim was soaked in a bathtub in her own feces and urine
  • Abrasions and ligature marks were found on her body, indicating she was restrained at some point

Two caregivers in New Mexico were charged Wednesday with torturing a 38-year-old disabled autistic woman after police found the victim badly abused and in tears in a van headed toward the southern border.

The victim, identified as Mary Melero, couldn't stand and was unresponsive when she was found on Feb. 23 in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border, the New York Post reported.

Melero was brought to an area hospital to be treated but died on April 7, New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez said at a press conference last week.

"In my nearly 20 years as a prosecutor, I can tell you without question that the injuries that Mary endured, that the harm that was inflicted upon her was nothing sort of torture," he said.

"She had multiple bed sores and pressure wounds that were so severe there were even exposed bones," Torrez told reporters. "There were marks and abrasions and ligature marks that indicated that she had in fact been restrained at some point."

The caregivers, identified as 52-year-old Angelita Chacon and 42-year-old Patricia Hurtado, were each charged Wednesday with abuse, neglect, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment and failure to report, according to a USA Today report.

An acquaintance of the two, 53-year-old Luz Scott, whose van was used to transport Melero, was also charged with false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit false imprisonment.

Prosecutors said Melero was found in the back of the van, lying on top of a floorboard and wrapped in a blanket and bandages to cover her open wounds. The victim was crying when she was found, according to an arrest affidavit for Chacon obtained by USA Today.

When border officials questioned the caregivers, Chacon told them that they were taking Melero to Mexico for medical treatment.

By the time Melero was rescued and admitted to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, she was suffering from pneumonia, with wounds all over her body so severe that in some patches, bones were already showing.

When police interrogated Chacon, she told investigators that the victim had spent three days in a bathtub in her own feces and urine, which they suspect aggravated infections on her wounds.

She also told authorities that the victim threw a portable stereo at her and that she threw it back at her, hitting Melero in the face and busting her lip.

An affidavit stated that Chacon had asked a friend who has no medical experience to stitch up Melero's lip instead of taking her to the doctor.

"Based on the numerous injuries covering [the victim]'s body, medical staff deduced she was the victim of a pattern of abuse and neglect," the affidavit said.

Torrez said that the two caregivers were paid at least $5,000 per month in state funds to care for Melero.

The two caregivers contracted with At Home Advocacy and three other contractors, which collected a total of $250,000 in state money for the victim in the nearly three years before her untimely death.

Torrez said Chacon was previously rejected when she applied to be a caregiver a decade ago due to a prior felony conviction.

At Home Advocacy said in a statement to USA Today that it is cooperating with the investigation into the woman's death. Its contract with the state of New Mexico had been terminated, according to its website.

"All instances of neglect and abuse must be addressed head-on," the agency said. "The recent arrests are an important step in doing just that."

Meanwhile, Dan Lindsey, an attorney representing Scott, told USA Today that his client is "innocent" and that she only loaned her van to the caregivers because she thought they were "helping" the victim.