Preliminary charges have been filed against an Indiana man and his wife after police discovered his grandchild, 15, in a locked room littered with feces. The mentally disabled girl weighed less than 40 pounds when she was discovered on Tuesday and is currently in critical condition in a hospital. The couple has been charged with neglect of a dependent. The Guardian Liberty Voice is not identifying the man and his wife in order to protect the girl’s identity.
A call placed on Monday from the girl’s home requested an ambulance. When police arrived at the home, they found a nurse using equipment to keep the 15-year-old breathing. According to the probable cause affidavit, the girl’s feet had feces on them. Police described the room in which the girl had been locked as containing blankets, a bucket, oatmeal and a space heater. Authorities noticed the presence of blood on the floor and feces spread throughout the room and its contents. The girl was taken to Anderson’s St. Vincent Regional Hospital, but her condition was so poor that she was airlifted to Indianapolis, Indiana, to be treated at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
According to a woman who was at the house when police were there, the man on occasion dragged his granddaughter by the hair. A 4-year-old child who was living in the house told investigators that she had seen the 15-year-old sticking her fingers out from behind the padlocked door in an attempt to escape the room. Another child told police that the girl was locked in the room “during the day and nights.” Detectives do not believe the 4-year-old is a blood relative of the couple. The child is now in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services. Although the DCS has dealt with the family before, they did not say why or when they were involved.
Her grandfather, 58, was arrested and placed into custody on Monday. His wife, who is not the biological grandparent of the girl, was arrested on Tuesday evening. Police have filed preliminary charges against her of battery and neglect of a dependent. The man is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday. No date has been scheduled for his wife’s arraignment hearing. Detective Joel Sandefur with the Anderson, Indiana, police department did not know if either of the persons arrested had retained a lawyer.
During questioning, the grandfather of the girl told Indiana police that the girl’s mother, his daughter, had abandoned her, and the court had appointed him guardian of the 15-year-old in 2009. The man, who weighs 225 pounds, told detectives that he had to lock the girl in the room because “she was very strong,” and he needed to protect himself. He also said that the girl would on occasion come toward him holding a knife.
The grandfather told investigators that the girl had not seen a doctor for an examination in almost three years. He added that the girl’s Medicaid had run out last year and because of that, he count not afford to provide her with nutritional drinks any longer. He said that after a fall on Monday, his granddaughter’s condition had worsened.
Sandefur described the girl as in life-threatening condition and so ill that she could not talk to investigators. The girl’s 16th birthday is just over a week away. Police hope that she will eventually recover enough to be able to talk to investigators. It is unknown from what sort of disability she suffers and whether her health was a reason for the way the couple treated her. Officers were in receipt of a letter, given to them by her grandfather, that refers to a chromosome issue in her brain as the cause of her disability. It is dated 2011.
Prosecutors in Madison County, Indiana, plan to file more serious charges should the girl not survive. Meanwhile, detectives plan to obtain the girl’s medical records as well as seek information on whether or not she ever attended school.
By Jennifer Pfalz