[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
This is heartbreaking and horrific. Three people have been charged with multiple counts of neglect and abuse after a nine-year-old boy was found locked inside a dog cage — where he had been living for months.
According to WBTW News 13, an anonymous neighbor called 911 shortly before 7:00 a.m. on October 19 to report seeing a young boy inside a dog kennel overnight at home in Lexington, North Carolina. Temperatures were below freezing. The person also mentioned her husband had given food to the child “in the past.”
When deputies in Davidson County arrived at the scene, Fox8 reported they found the kid in nothing but a t-shirt and jeans and locked inside the locked cage, which was secured by a combination lock, outside the house. He did not even have shoes on at the time. It was also so cold outside that there was frost on the ground, and police said the boy was shivering to the point where he could not speak until he was warmed up, WBTV reported.
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While cops were at the scene, a man showed up and told police the child had been in the cage since around 10:30 p.m. the previous night. He said he brought him snacks and a coat, per warrants. The boy then revealed to EMS that he did not have a room inside the house “because he lived outside” — and had been there since April, per search warrants.
What the f**k?!
According to WBTW News 13, law enforcement spotted his stepmother, Sarah Starr, at the back door of the residence holding a baby at one point. And instead of asking about the situation, they claimed she just walked away and turned off the lights. Police eventually forced entry into the house and detained the stepmom. During that time, Sarah told deputies only her aunt and homeowner, Shelly Barnes, knew the combination of the kennel. Warrants stated Shelly and the child’s dad, Jonathan Starr, were aware of their son being kept outside, and they were “upset about it.” However, they insisted once again that only Shelly’s aunt knew the combo for the lock.
Huh?? Make it make sense!!
A 4-year-old child was also found underneath her bed at the time, while a 7-year-old and 8-year-old were at school. All five kids were taken into custody by the Department of Social Services, and thankfully, they are in good health.
Now, a grand jury has handed down 19 indictments to Sarah, Shelly, and Jonathan on Monday following testimonies from detectives at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department. The stepmom has been charged with seven counts of felony negligent child abuse inflicting serious mental/emotional injury, misdemeanor child abuse, and three counts of felony child abuse inflicting serious physical injury. The father was charged with two counts of felony negligent child abuse inflicting serious mental/emotional injury and felony child abuse inflicting serious physical injury.
Meanwhile, Shelly received two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, misdemeanor child abuse, assault on a child younger than 12, and two counts of felony negligent child abuse inflicting serious mental/emotional injury.
A horrible, horrible situation… Reactions? Let us know in the comments below.
If you have sincere cause to suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org.
[Image via Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, WFMY News 2/YouTube]