Trial of Pennsylvania family accused of starving boy set for March

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2014 4:27 PM

By Elizabeth Daley

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - The trial of three members of a western Pennsylvania family accused of beating and starving a seven-year-old boy nearly to death will begin on March 10, court officials said on Thursday.

The boy's mother, Mary Rader, 28, his grandmother Deana Beighley, 48, and her husband, Dennis Beighley, 59, appeared at the Mercer County courthouse on Wednesday before Judge Christopher St. John for a hearing to set the trial date.

The three have been charged with torturing and nearly killing Rader's son in Greenville, about 80 miles north of Pittsburgh.

The boy was starved, beaten and only permitted to bathe in ice water, according to the criminal complaint, which said he was not allowed out of the house except for the back porch, where he would catch bugs and eat them.

The child was pulled out of school in August 2013 and weighed less than 25 pounds when he was rescued in June after neighbors called authorities.

School officials said that before the boy was removed from Hempfield Elementary School, his mother sent a note to school asking that officers to serve no breakfast to her son.

Connie Timashenka, who was principal at the school at the time, said when she found out about what he endured she felt "sickness and a feeling of disbelief." 

After the boy was rescued, investigators interviewed the boy's two normal-weight sisters, who were ages 11 and 4 at the time, and determined that the boy had been singled out for abuse, according to the complaint. A 9-year-old brother also was underweight but not as severely, it said.

The three adults face at least 14 charges each, including aggravated assault, false imprisonment and attempted first-degree murder.

They have all been held at the Mercer County Jail since their arrest in August. Their lawyers could not be reached for comment. 

(Editing By Frank McGurty and Steve Orlofsky)