Two boys (b. 2004 and 2008) were starved and physically abused by their stepmother, Sara Anne Woody. Their father, Jonathan Woody, knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it. The boys’ siblings–a younger girl and boy who were Sara Anne’s children from a previous relationship, and two younger children who were both the Woodys’ biological children–witnessed the abuse although they were not reported to be targets of it. The children were homeschooled.
The abuse began soon after Sara Anne and Jonathan moved in together around 2014. Sara Anne burned the boys’ tongues with a lighter, beat their genitals with a belt, forced them to go naked as punishment (“because it was the worst thing a Christian fanatic could think of,” according to the prosecution), forced them to lick feces off of a toilet, forced them to vomit up food they had “stolen”, forced them to exercise and beat them when they stopped, and locked them in a closet overnight with a bucket for a toilet. After the boys’ grandparents noticed the abuse, visits to the grandparents ceased, and prosecutors later noted that “the defense never called any…other mothers from their homeschool group to testify, showing an increased isolation of the children.” According to the boys’ grandparents, after they were rescued, “the older boy scored in the sixth percentile in reading and 15th percentile in math…His younger brother has also had to repeat the first grade.”
The abuse came to light after Sara Anne beat one of the boys’ faces with a metal spoon and Jonathan took the boy to the hospital, where his injuries were recognized as caused by abuse. The boys quickly gained weight when they were placed in a different home, and they and Sara Anne’s two children were diagnosed with PTSD. Sara Anne was found guilty on 16 counts of injury to a child and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Jonathan Woody was charged with child endangerment.
Date: March 30, 2016
Location: Burkburnett, Texas