Couple charged after teen found weighing 40 pounds

AP News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2014 5:26 PM

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — A man and his wife have been charged with neglect after his 15-year-old granddaughter was found weighing less than 40 pounds, with authorities saying both adults used belts to strike the girl, the man dragged her down the stairs by her hair and his wife fed her feces and urine as punishment.

Authorities say they found the teenager in a locked room with feces and blood on the walls and floor. Her bones were protruding from her skin.

The girl, who court documents said was not breathing and had no pulse when emergency workers arrived Monday, had been listed in critical condition at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent in Indianapolis. A hospital spokeswoman said Friday no information was being released on the girl, who turns 16 on Dec. 14.

At an initial hearing Friday, the girl's 58-year-old grandfather was formally charged with 12 counts including neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, criminal confinement, battery against a disabled person and battery resulting in bodily injury.

The woman, 54, who had been released on bond a day earlier, was arrested following the hearing and charged with 11 felonies including neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, criminal confinement and battery resulting in bodily injury. She also faces a misdemeanor count of battery by body waste. Her initial hearing is scheduled for Monday.

The Associated Press isn't identifying the two people in order to protect the girl's identity. Court records do not indicate either has hired an attorney, and both were ordered held on $100,000 cash bond.

Police said the locked room where the girl was kept had a mattress, space heater, blankets, a bowl with oatmeal and a bucket and there was some blood on the floor and "feces on everything in the room." A doctor told police the girl suffers from malnutrition, bed sores and neglect. A nurse said she had dried feces under her fingernails and toenails.

Anderson Community School Corp. records indicate the girl has mental and physical disabilities, but did not specify what they are, police said. The grandfather gave police a letter dated 2011 that says a chromosome problem in the girl's brain caused her disorder.

Terry Thompson, Anderson Community School Corp. superintendent, said the couple withdrew the girl from school in 2010 to be home-schooled. He said he couldn't comment further.

A police affidavit said the 225-pound grandfather said he locked the girl in the room to protect himself because "she was very strong" and "she would approach him with a knife." He told police he was the girl's court appointed guardian because his daughter had abandoned the girl. The woman said she also had been appointed by the courts as a guardian and the family receives $720 a month to care for the girl.

Another woman who lived in the house for two months in 2011 and had a 4-year-old boy in the house at the time the girl was found told police the two struck the teen in the face using a belt, striking her with the buckle end, the affidavit said. Police said a 21-year-old daughter of the couple said a bucket was kept in the room where the girl was kept to use as a toilet.

The woman charged with neglect said the girl weighed 95 pounds in 2013, but had not seen a doctor since 2012. The probable cause affidavit says a doctor who treated the girl in 2012 recommended she be admitted to the hospital so she could be given a feeding tube, but that the family never brought her back to the hospital.