3 Boys by Douglas Myers

douglas w myers
Three boys, born in 1983, 1985, and 1986, were sexually abused by Rev. Douglas W. Myers, the minister at Bayside Baptist Church. The boy who was born in 1985 was homeschooled at the church by Myers between seventh and ninth grade (that is, around 1998); it is unknown if the other boys were also homeschooled.

The abuse came to light in 2012 when the boy born in 1983 wrote a letter to police to report it and an investigation turned up the other two victims. At that time, Myers was already in prison for sexually abusing the grandson of a parishioner in Eustis, Florida from July 2005 until his arrest on February 24, 2006. He was sentenced to 15 more years in prison for abusing the three Maryland boys.

Date: 1998
Location:
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland Continue reading

Aziza Kibibi, and 7 siblings

aziza kibibi
Eight children—seven girls, of whom Aziza Kibibi, b. 1978, was the oldest, and one boy—were physically and sexually abused by their father, Aswad Ayinde, a music producer for The Fugees. The children’s mother, Beverly, knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it. The children were all homebirthed and homeschooled, as Ayinde opposed birth certificates and modern medicine.

Ayinde began raping Aziza when she was 8 years old and eventually fathered four children with her, several of whom had a rare genetic disorder due to inbreeding (Aziza and four of her children are pictured above). He also raped four of his other daughters and fathered a child with two of them as part of a plan to create his own “pure blood” race. He starved the children and beat them “using wooden boards and steel-toed boots”. He kept them isolated and forbade them from watching TV.

The abuse came to light for the first time when Aziza’s grandmother alerted the authorities; however, the investigation was unsuccessful. Social services got involved again when Aziza brought her sick child to the hospital; around that time, in 2003, Beverly and Aswad Ayinde separated and the children went to live with their mother. Aziza and her sisters did not decide to press charges until 2006 when they discovered Ayinde had young daughters with other women who were in danger of abuse. Ayinde was sentenced to 90 years in prison for the rapes.

Date: 2006
Location:
Paterson, New Jersey Continue reading

2 Children of Kimberly and John Quebe

kimberly and john quebe
Two children, a 15-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, were imprisoned and physically abused by their parents, Kimberly Joy Quebe and John Herman Quebe. The Quebes claimed to be homeschooling, but they did not follow any of the requirements and the children were not at grade level.

The children spent long periods of time with their wrists and ankles tied; the boy spent hours locked in his room. The Quebes also verbally abused their children. The abuse came to light when someone observed the children’s restraint marks at the community pool and called in a tip. The Quebes pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, child abuse, and corporal injury on a child and were sentenced to 12 years in prison. Because there was no trial, more details of the physical abuse were not made public.

Date: July 21, 2008
Location:
Anaheim, California Continue reading

2 Children of Kristen and Douglas Barbour

barbours
Two children—E., a 6-year-old boy, and R., a 1-year-old girl—were starved, beaten, and emotionally abused by their adoptive parents, Kristen and Douglas Barbour. The Barbours’ two biological children, ages 2 and 4, were not abused. E. was homeschooled.

E. and R. were adopted from Ethiopia in March 2012. The Barbours were active in their local church and Douglas Barbour was a former deputy attorney general, but they were not prepared for parenting two internationally adopted children. When E. had incontinence issues, they forced him to stand in a dark bathroom as punishment. He was told that his body was unsafe for other people and limited in which bathrooms he could use and which food he could eat. He was also thrown to the ground and hit his head. R. was also abused, although it is unknown what exactly the Barbours did to her.

The abuse came to light in October 2012 when child welfare officials at the hospital noticed that E. had lost 10 pounds since his adoption and that R. had multiple head fractures in various stages of healing. When they were removed from the Barbours’ home, E. had “lesions from being kept in urine-soaked clothing for long periods of time” and R. had permanent brain damage. The Barbours pleaded no contest to child endangerment and Kristen Barbour was sentenced to 6 to 12 months in prison. Douglas Barbour was sentenced to probation and they were allowed to keep custody of their biological children.

Date: October 4, 2012
Location:
Franklin Park, Pennsylvania Continue reading

Gregory Jean Jr.

gregory jean
Gregory Jean Jr., age 13, was imprisoned, starved, beaten, and forced to work as a maid for four years by his father, Gregory Jean Sr., and his stepmother Samantha Joy Davis. Davis’ biological children were also abused—she “was on probation for cutting her biological son’s tongue with a pair of hot scissors in 2004″—but they were not imprisoned or starved as Gregory was. After Gregory reported the abuse to a school counselor and investigators failed to substantiate the claim, he was withdrawn from school to be homeschooled, which consisted of copying words out of the dictionary.

Gregory first went to visit with Jean and Davis in 2010, but Jean insisted that he stay to avoid having to pay child support payments to Gregory’s biological mother, Lisa Smith. Though Gregory was initially treated well, eventually he was forced to sleep in the garage with a bucket as a toilet and forbidden from celebrating Christmas with the family. When Davis was not pleased with his schoolwork or his labor, she beat him with a stick and deprived him of food.

The abuse finally came to light when Gregory managed to contact Smith, who had reported him missing. After a long search of the house, police finally found him hidden behind a wall. Jean and Davis were each charged with false imprisonment, cruelty to children, and obstruction. Davis’ three teenaged children who lived in the home were also charged with obstruction.

Date: November 29, 2014
Location:
Jonesboro, Georgia Continue reading

7 Children of Jeffrey and Danita York

jeffrey york
Seven children—two boys and five girls ranging in age from 3 months to 19 years—were imprisoned and physically and sexually abused for fifteen years by their father, Jeffrey York. At least one of the girls was York’s stepdaughter. The children’s mother, Danita York, was also abused. The children were homeschooled.

York forced his wife and children to dress in 18th-century-style clothing and kept them isolated from the outside world. Between September 1996 and October 1997 he raped one of the girls, who was younger than 13. One of the other girls was imprisoned in “an 8-by-10-foot bedroom for almost a year” and beaten with a hobby horse.

The abuse came to light when Danita York reported the rapes to the police in 2009. Jeffrey York was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Date: December 2009
Location:
Madison Township, Ohio Continue reading

5 Children of Jessica Banks

jessica banks
Five girls, ages 4 to 11, were starved, beaten, and sexually abused by their adoptive mother, Jessica Banks. The girls were removed from public school in 2004 shortly after their adoption. Banks was the pastor of the Word of Life Apostolic Church, a “satanic cult” where the girls were homeschooled.

The children began living with Banks in 2000 after they were removed from their abusive birth family. Banks made them sleep in an unheated room in her garage and wear two layers of diapers under long black dresses. The girls were beaten daily with various objects, forced to eat spoiled food and clean Banks’ house. Banks drugged them with sleeping pills and raped two of them while the others watched.

Banks was arrested after one of the girls, age 6, was found emaciated and bruised on the pavement near the church. Banks was sentenced to life in prison.

Date: June 2005
Location:
Moreno Valley, California Continue reading

4 Children of Sylvia and Michael Wenger

michael wenger
Four children—Richard Felsch (right), b. 1988; his twin sisters, b. 1987; and an unrelated boy, b. 1995—were imprisoned and physically and sexually abused by Sylvia and Michael Wenger (left), their adoptive parents. The children were homeschooled. It is unknown whether the Wengers’ biological children were also abused.

Three of the children were placed with the Wengers in 1996 after they were abused in their biological mother’s home. The fourth boy later joined them. At the Wengers’, the children were beaten with boards, “forced to stand in a corner for hours, locked into closets and force-fed for punishment.” The twin girls and the youngest boy were also repeatedly raped by Michael Wenger, who had begun dating his wife Sylvia when she was 14 and he was 21.

The abuse came to light in 2001 when one of the girls escaped and reported it to the authorities. The Wengers served 7 years in prison.

Date: 2001
Location:
Chewelah, Washington Continue reading

Children by Tony Alamo

Image: Tony Alamojeanne amy desiree nikki

Six girls—Jeanne Orlando (left), Amy Eddy (second from left), Desiree Kolbek (second from right), Pebbles Rodriguez, Jamie Rodriquez, and Summer Hagan—were taken as child brides and sexually abused by Tony Alamo, a fundamentalist minister and leader of the cultlike Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. Jeanne was 15, Amy was 14, Desiree was 8, and Pebbles was 12 when they were first raped by Alamo. A seventh girl, Nicole Farr (right), was 15 when she escaped from Alamo’s compound, having been told she would be his next bride.

Dozens of other children were also sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by the group, which also had branches in Indiana, California, Colorado, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. None of the children in the group received social security numbers or vaccinations. Although Alamo claimed that all the children were homeschooled, their homeschool program was not registered and Anthony Lane, the father of three other children in Alamo’s group (9-year-old Tim, 11-year-old Sarah, and 13-year-old Ashley, whom he had seen married to a 40-year-old man), stated that “They don’t do much schooling though, for someone who claims they home school their kids. I didn’t see a whole lot of kids going to school every day.”

Tony Alamo was arrested and charged with transporting minors across state lines to engage in sex. He was sentenced to 175 years in prison. Many of the parents in his group lost custodial rights to their children.

Date: September 20, 2008
Location:
Fouke, Arkansas Continue reading

2 Children of Latisha Lawson

letisha lawson and jezaih king
Two children—Kierra King, born in 2000, and Jeziah King (right), born in 2007—were physically abused by their mother, Latisha Lawson (left). Kierra was homeschooled.

Lawson lived with the children’s father, Lawrence King, until October 2009. After they broke up, she moved in with her friend Natasha Hawkins and Hawkins’ three children. At this time Lawson began homeschooling Kierra and beating her with a belt and extension cords; she also became convinced that Jeziah and the other children were possessed by demons. In November 2009, Lawson forced all five children to undergo an exorcism ritual whereby they had to ingest olive oil and vinegar. When Jeziah refused, Lawson murdered him by suffocating him. She then kept his body in her bed for about a month and continued to leave him unburied for approximately one year. During this time Kierra was sometimes forced to touch his body as punishment.

The murder came to light after Lawson had moved out of Hawkins’ home, taking Jeziah’s body with her in a plastic bin. In December 2010, police officers performed a welfare check in Hawkins’ home and Hawkins revealed that Jeziah had been murdered. The police then located Lawson, who confessed. She was found guilty of murder, neglect of a dependent, and battery. She was sentenced to 61 years in prison.

Date: December 20, 2010
Location:
Fort Wayne, Indiana Continue reading

28 Children of Kathy and Dan Blackburn

Twenty-eight children adopted from Haiti (ranging in age from infant to 11 years when adopted in 1987), several with special needs, were neglected and physically abused by their parents, Kathy and Dan Blackburn. Several of the girls also reported being sexually abused by Dan Blackburn and, it is suggested, by their older brothers. The children were homeschooled. The Blackburns also had two biological sons (ages 20 and 18 in 1987) who were not abused.

The abuse came to light when some of the girls reported the sexual abuse to Kathy and she filed for divorce. Custody of the children was first awarded to Dan Blackburn but eventually awarded to Kathy Blackburn. Many of the children were subsequently enrolled in public school.

Date: 1995
Location:
Shelbyville, Indiana Continue reading

3 Grandchildren of James and Cheri Crawford

cheri and james crawford
Three boys, ages 12, 11, and 8, were tortured by their grandparents, James and Cheri Crawford. The boys had been pulled from school to be homeschooled.

The boys had come to live with their grandparents after their father was murdered and their mother, a drug addict, abandoned them. The boys were starved and forced to eat spoiled food; they often had only a bucket for a bathroom. They were forced to do heavy manual labor and to stand at attention outside for hours at a time. The oldest boy was imprisoned in a trailer for a year and a half and spent most of the time blindfolded, resulting in a forehead scar. The 11-year-old was forced to shock his older brother with a shock collar and also had to sleep outside in a storage shed.

The abuse came to light when a neighbor witnessed Cheri abusing one of the children and called the authorities. Cheri and James Crawford entered Alford pleas and were sentenced to 8 and 7 years in prison, respectively.

Date: July 2009
Location:
Hartsville, South Carolina Continue reading

11 Children of Jeremy and Christine Long

jeremy and christine long
Six girls and five boys, ages 10 months to 18 years, were severely neglected by their parents, Jeremy and Christine Long. The children were second-generation homeschoolers—their father, Jeremy Long, had been homeschooled and wanted the same for his children. However, when the children were rescued, they were illiterate and “didn’t know the days of the week, their ABC’s, or even how to spell their own names.” There was no food in the house and the youngest children were malnourished.

The Longs had begun living together when Jeremy was 16 and Christine was 17; their oldest child Miranda was born when they were 18 and 19 respectively. All the children were homebirthed and never received vaccinations or dental care. The Long children spent their lives “without food, water, electricity, heat, education, medical care, bedding or proper clothing and shoes.”

The Longs lost custody of their children and were charged with cruelty to children and failure to educate. Jeremy Long was sentenced to three years in prison; Christine Long did not receive prison time.

Date: July 31, 2008
Location:
Hephzibah, Georgia Continue reading

7 Children of Adrienne Bartholomew and James Brothers

bartholomews
Seven children—boys ages 11, 7, 6, 6, 2, and 18 months, and a girl of unknown age—were medically neglected and starved by their parents, Adrienne Bartholomew and James Brothers, and their grandmother Debra Nelson. The children were homeschooled: the 11-year-old attended online school, and the 7-, 6-, and 6-year-old boys had individual education plans whereby they attended the public school one day per week to receive special education services. Five of the children (the 7-year-old, the two 6-year-olds, the 2-year-old, and the 18-month-old) were disabled by a rare genetic disorder that made them unable to retain healthy fat deposits.

Despite the children’s complex medical needs and the presence of the children’s grandmother as an in-home caregiver, the 11-year-old boy was primarily responsible for caring for and feeding his younger siblings while the adults in the home neglected them, bathing them only once a week and cleaning the house only in preparation for social worker visits.

The abuse came to light when the 18-month-old, Isaac Brothers-Bartholomew, died of dehydration and malnourishment and his parents called the police. When the other children were rescued, they were covered in vomit and urine and severely malnourished—one of the 6-year-olds weighed only 23 pounds. Bartholomew, Brothers, and Nelson were each charged with involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, and patient endangerment. Brothers was sentenced to six years in prison while Bartholomew received three.

Date: November 6, 2012
Location:
Vermilion Township, Ohio Continue reading

2 Children of James and Anne Cardona

james and anne cardona
Two girls, ages 5 and 4, were neglected by their parents, James and Anne Cardona. The Cardonas claimed to be homeschooling them.

The 5-year-old had rotten teeth and hair that was matted and filled with lice; the 4-year-old was still in diapers. The girls were severely obese and had difficulty walking: the 5-year-old weighed 158 pounds and the 4-year-old weighed 89. The girls spent most of their days locked up inside the house, which was filled with cockroaches and giant spiders which repeatedly bit them.

The abuse came to light when police responded to a domestic dispute at the Cardonas’ house and encountered the girls. The Cardonas were charged with felony child cruelty and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Date: August 16, 2010
Location:
Marietta, Georgia Continue reading

4 Children of John and Margie Cantrell

cantrells
Four children—Sheryl* (age 16), Harlan* (13), and Callie* (10), along with their 16-year-old uncle—were emotionally and physically abused by their foster parents, John and Margaret “Margie” Cantrell. The children were frequently “homeschooled”—that is, kept home from school as a form of punishment while Margie claimed to be homeschooling them.

The children had been removed from the home of Shauntel Mayo, the mother of three of them, and her boyfriend Jamie Pittman, due to neglect. In 2005 they had been placed with the Cantrells, who had raised more than 30 children including their three biological children. Shortly afterwards, Margie Cantrell went to the authorities with reports that the children had disclosed ritual sexual abuse in a swingers’ club in Mineola, Texas. After 7 people were tried and convicted in the case, in 2008 two of the Cantrells’ former foster children from California came forward to allege sexual abuse by John Cantrell.

The abuse came to light in 2013 when the children’s 21-year-old foster sister, who still lived in the home, reported it to social services, who removed the children from the Cantrells’ home. Sheryl and the 16-year-old boy alleged that she had been slapped, punched, and pulled by the hair and that he had been “spanked with a wooden back scratcher so hard that it had broken.” The children were forced to sleep in an unheated garage and the food pantries were kept locked. The children had not seen a doctor while in the Cantrells’ care. Three other former foster children reported that Margie was controlling and manipulative and would yell at the children and brainwash them into believing stories she made up. These allegations threw the conclusions of the 7 Mineola cases into doubt.

*Not their real names

Date: October 28, 2013
Location:
Lake Brenda, Tyler, Texas Continue reading

Benson, Emery, and Zion Strack

stracks
Benson (age 14, left), Emery (age 12, center), and Zion Strack (age 11, right) were victims of a murder-suicide committed by their parents, Benjamin and Kristi Strack. The children were homeschooled.

The Stracks suffered from mental illness—one of them had substance abuse problems, and Kristi had severe depression. The children were poisoned by their parents, who then killed themselves. The children knew that they were going to die—Benson left a goodbye note for one of his friends. The Stracks’ bodies were discovered by the children’s older brother, Janson McGee.

Date: September 27, 2014
Location:
Springville, Utah Continue reading

Jackie Zudis

jackie zudis
Thi My Lan Nguyen, born c.1967 and later known as Jackie Zudis, was sexually assaulted for decades by her adoptive father, George Joseph England (who used the alias Stephen Arthur Seagoe). He kept her in school until she was a teenager—homeschooling became an option around that time, and England pulled Zudis from school, claiming to be homeschooling.

The abuse came to light when Zudis went to authorities nearly 15 years after she escaped from England. In 2011, England was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Date: May 2005
Location:
West Palm Beach, Florida Continue reading

Grayson Bell

grayson bellernest bell and kristen downs
Grayson Bell, age 11, who went by ‘Blayne’, was physically abused by his father, Ernest W. Bell III, and his stepmother Kristen M. Downs. Blayne had been removed from school in 2012 to be homeschooled, although Bell and Downs “never followed the appropriate program nor registered the home schooling with the state for approval.”

The abuse came to light when the boy ran away from home and was reported missing. When he was found, authorities noticed bruises and interviewed the boy. Bell and Downs were charged with physical child abuse and neglect.

Date: October 14, 2014
Location:
Plain Dealing, Louisiana Continue reading

5 children of Charles and Suzan Sealock

charles and suzan sealock
Three children, a 9-year-old girl, a 7-year-old boy, and a 6-year-old boy, were tortured by their adoptive parents, Charles and Suzan Sealock. The Sealocks’ biological child, a 14-year-old boy, and an adopted 3-year-old child were not abused. The children were homeschooled.

The seven-year-old boy was imprisoned in a bathroom for days at a time with only baby food to eat. He was also beaten, pinched and bitten by his parents. The other two children showed similar previous injuries. The abuse came to light when the 7-year-old boy escaped and went to a neighbor for help. The Sealocks were charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment.

Date: August 30, 2014
Location:
Dandridge, Tennessee Continue reading

5 children of Robert Simons and Mary Tittle

robert simons mary tittle
Five children, ages 7 to 13, were neglected and denied medical care by their parents, Robert H. Simons III and Mary Ella Tittle. The children’s grandmother, Roberta Sauls, knew about the neglect and did nothing. A woman who lived with the family, Leona Patricia Bentler, also knew about the neglect and did nothing. Her 8-year-old daughter was also neglected. Simons and Tittle evaded social services for years, telling officials in Tennessee that they were homeschooling in Pennsylvania, and telling officials in Pennsylvania that they were homeschooling in Tennessee. Although Tittle tried to teach the kids what little she knew, she was not successful and the children could not read or write, did not know their ages or last names, and could not brush their teeth or hold a pencil.

The oldest girl was suffering from advanced kidney disease and an infected rat bite when an anonymous tip brought social services to the door. She recovered after a kidney transplant and the children began to attend school in their foster home. Simons and Tittle were each found guilty on two counts of aggravated child neglect. Simons was sentenced to 18 years in prison; Tittle got 17 years. Charges against Bentler were dropped.

Date: April 22, 2010
Location:
Jonesborough, Tennessee Continue reading

Daughter of Kevin and Theresa Carothers

kevin and theresa carothers
A 15-year-old girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her stepfather, Kevin Carothers, and her mother Theresa Carothers, over the course of three years. The girl was homeschooled in online classes. A “witness”, possibly an adult sibling of the girl, also described being sexually assaulted by Kevin Carothers.

Kevin Carothers, a registered sex offender who had been convicted of child sexual abuse in 1997, married Theresa in 2006. Kevin began to assault the girl in summer 2009; in December 2009 both Kevin and Theresa began assaulting the girl together. The abuse came to light when the girl disclosed it to her grandmother, whom the Carotherses lived with. The grandmother then found nude photos of the girl on a camera and called social services.

Kevin Carothers pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child and Theresa Carothers pleaded guilty to assault and attempted sexual assault of a child.

Date: August 17, 2012
Location:
Denver, Colorado Continue reading

Katelyn Pendleton

katelyn pendleton
Jamie Leighanna Brooks, age 11 (who later changed her name to Katelyn Colbie Pendleton), was starved, beaten, and scalded by her caregivers, Kizza Monika Lopez and Melonea Feagin. Lopez had pulled Jamie out of school to homeschool her. It is unclear whether Lopez’s other children were abused.

When she was 9, Jamie’s biological mother Velma Hare gave her to Lopez. Lopez and Feagin, her babysitter, whipped Jamie with plastic coat hangers, threw scalding water on her, alternatively starved and force-fed her, and made her sleep in a closet. An anonymous tip brought the authorities to rescue Jamie.

Lopez and Feagin were convicted of child abuse. Lopez was also charged with neglect and sentenced to 20 years in prison; Feagin got 15. Jamie was adopted into the Pendleton family and changed her name to Katelyn.

Date: May 8, 2008
Location:
Fort Walton Beach, Florida Continue reading

Children by Timothy and Karen Tolin

tolin parentstolins
Three boys, ages 12, 14, and 19, with severe mental and physical disabilities, along with three disabled adults, were neglected by their adoptive parents, Timothy and Karen “Sue” Tolin. The children were homeschooled.

The 19-year-old was autistic and legally blind and was imprisoned naked in a locked crib. There had been previous social services involvement regarding the children being educationally neglected, but HSLDA had intervened and agreed to perform home visits to monitor the children. These visits were apparently not conducted.

The Tolins were charged with unlawful imprisonment and vulnerable adult abuse.

Date: October 20, 2014
Location:
Paris Township, Michigan Continue reading

Boy by Michael Krause

michael alvin krause
C.H., a 12-year-old boy, was groomed and forced to appear in pornography by Michael Alvin Krause, his homeschool teacher.

Krause befriended the boy’s mother, Misty Hebert, and grandmother Nancy Hunt, claiming that he had been “a Pentecostal preacher and had helped ‘problem teens’ by home-schooling them.” Hebert pulled C.H. from school after he experienced problems and engaged Krause to be C.H.’s homeschool teacher. Eventually C.H. began living with Krause in his trailer, where Krause took nude photos of C.H.

The abuse came to light when Krause took C.H. on a trip to Wisconsin and Hebert was informed by Wisconsin authorities that Krause had previously been investigated for “possession of child pornography and abuse of two other boys,” the 10- and 11-year-old sons of his former roommate Betty Baum. Hebert entered Krause’s trailer and found computers containing nude photos of C.H. and the two other boys. She turned the evidence over to the Texas authorities.

Krause was found guilty of possession of child pornography and indecency with a child sexual contact. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Date: December 8, 2003
Location:
Gilchrist, Texas Continue reading

2 children of Brenda Frazier

johnnie and ladonna stilwell
An 11-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl were tortured by their grandparents, LaDonna (right) and Johnny Stilwell, and their mother Brenda Frazier (not pictured), using an electric cattle prod. The boy was also locked in his room with a bucket for a toilet. The children were homeschooled.

The abuse came to light when the boy informed social services about it. The Stilwells and Frazier were charged with and convicted of child abuse. LaDonna Stilwell was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but her sentence was suspended. Johnny Stilwell was sentenced to 20 years of probation. Frazier was sentenced to 15 years of probation.

Date: November 2002
Location:
Enid, Oklahoma Continue reading

Children by George Johnston, 4 others

raymond lambert
At least 6 children were ritually sexually assaulted by George Otis Johnston (right, sometimes identified as ‘Johnson’), the pastor of Grandview Valley Baptist Church North, and four elders at its sister church Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church: pastor Raymond Lambert (left), his wife Patty Lambert, and her brothers Paul and Tom Epling. All the children in Grandview Valley compound were homeschooled at the Grand Valley Christian Academy. Some of the abuse occurred while Johnston was tutoring one of the children in algebra.

The abuse came to light in May 2006 when eight members of the commune walked away from the church with no money or physical belongings. One of the women told authorities about abuses that had taken place at the compound. In August 2006, the approximately 20 children who remained at the compound were taken into custody by social services. Johnston and the others were charged with a number of felonies; however, all of the charges were eventually dropped due to witnesses’ being unwilling to testify, the statute of limitations being invoked (some of the abuse had occurred in the 1970s and 1980s), and the victims’ desire to avoid further victimization in court.

Date: August 24, 2006
Location:
Granby, Missouri; Pineville, Missouri Continue reading

5 children by Patrick and Sherry Kelley

kelleys
Five children, girls aged 15, 14, and 6 and boys aged 13 and 11, were burned, beaten, starved, and imprisoned by their adoptive parents, Patrick (center) and Sherry Kelley. Their grandparents, George and Shirley Long, knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it. After the children were withdrawn from school when the family moved to Big Lake, “the Kelleys soon gave up trying to home school them.”

The children were placed with the Kelleys in 1998 after being removed from their parents, who were substance abusers. They were forced to work outside 20 hours a day. They were beaten with metal pipes and shovels. They were sometimes forced to sleep outside in the Alaska winter with no heat. The younger boy, who now goes by T.J. White (pictured at right), suffered burns over a large part of his body which went untreated; he also lost a finger to frostbite and had his arm broken by a beating. The children were locked in bedrooms and tied to beds; the older boy was chained to a tree and imprisoned in a coffin-like sealed box. They were punished for eating and deprived of food.

The abuse came to light when George Long called the police after one of the children received a particularly vicious beating. Sherry and Patrick Kelley were each charged with 9 felonies and 34 misdemeanors; in a later plea agreement they Sherry pleaded no contest to assault and criminal nonsupport while Patrick pleaded no contest to child endangerment. In November 2006 they were sentenced to time served. George Long was convicted of assault and sentenced to time served.

Date: July 9, 2004
Location:
Big Lake, Wasilla, Alaska Continue reading

Judah Cobble

cobbles
Judah Cobble, age 12, was repeatedly spanked with a belt by his father, Donald Cobble, a minister at the Christian Teaching and Worship Center. Judah’s teachers reported suspected abuse to social services, who found that there was substantial risk to Judah, who had ADD and “arthrogryposis, a congenital muscle condition which require[d] him to wear braces on his back and legs.” However, Judah’s case was closed shortly thereafter. Donald Cobble then withdrew his son from school to homeschool him. He later sued social services and won.

Date: March 1997
Location:
Woburn, Massachusetts Continue reading

Amber Nicklas

amber nicklas
Amber Rose Nicklas, age 13 months, was abducted from her foster parents in Norwalk, California in September 2003 by three of her teenage biological aunts. Though two of the girls were caught, the third managed to escape with Amber, who was missing for seven years. Amber was raised by a loving Romany family in Arizona who did not know she had been abducted—they were told that her drug addict mother had given her up. However, they did not have any identifying paperwork for her, so she could not be enrolled in school. Instead she was homeschooled in the Romany tradition, although when she was found she could not read or write, although she was bilingual in English and Romany (mistakenly identified in several news sources as ‘Romanian’).

She was discovered in 2010 after police received a tip about her whereabouts; she was subsequently returned to her foster parents.

Date: July 14, 2010
Location:
Phoenix, Arizona Continue reading

7 children of JoAnn and Michael McGuckin

mcguckins
Seven children—Erina (age 19, right), Kathryn (16), Benjamin (14), Mary (13), James (11), Frederick (9), and Jane (8)—were starved and neglected by their parents, Michael and JoAnn McGuckin (center). All were homeschooled.

Both Michael and JoAnn suffered from mental illness, and the family lived in poverty completely off the grid. The children subsisted mainly on lily pads and pond water; the house was filled with garbage. Erina, the oldest, was primarily responsible for homeschooling the children and caring for her youngest sister. Erina left home in 2000 to join the military but was medically discharged due to complications of long-term malnourishment. Then, in May 2001, Michael McGuckin died of malnourishment after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. These events prompted Erina to report the family. When authorities arrived to remove the children, a five-day standoff ensued.

JoAnn McGuckin was arrested on charges of child injury which were later dismissed. She was reunited with her children in 2002.

Date: May 29, 2001
Location:
Sandpoint, Idaho Continue reading

Children of Peter Hansen

peter hansen
A 13-year-old boy was starved and imprisoned in a bathroom by his father, Peter D. Hansen. The boy’s 10-year-old sister was also starved. Both were homeschooled.

After the Hansens were evicted from their home in 2009, they took up residence in their Seventh-Day Adventist church. Hansen kept his children on a strict vegetarian diet with two meals per day. As punishment for disobedience, the boy was repeatedly locked in a cold church bathroom with no light, sometimes for over a week at a time.

The abuse was discovered after a call to the child abuse hotline. The courts did not find enough evidence to convict Hansen for food deprivation, but he was convicted for the imprisonment. He was sentenced to three years in prison but only served 100 days. The children’s mother, who lived with them, was not charged.

Date: November 2009
Location:
Springfield, Missouri Continue reading

9 boys by Nathan and Tammy Jessop

nathan jessop
Nine boys, ages 12 to 17, were beaten, starved, and imprisoned by Nathan Jessop. All were current or former members of the FLDS who had been sent by their parents to live with Jessop due to their supposed disobedience; several of the boys did not know what they had done to be sent there and one reported that he had been sent away for exchanging text messages with a girl. Tammy Jessop, one of Nathan’s stepmothers, homeschooled the boys, although “education appeared to stop when the boys were old enough to pursue a GED diploma.”

Some of the boys had been with Jessop since late 2012, when they had lived in Wyoming. In early 2013 they moved to Idaho, where Tammy and two girls, ages 20 and 16, joined them in an adjoining home. One of the boys was Nathan Jessop’s son, age 16; three were his stepsons; and three others were his nephews. The boys were beaten with boards and brooms; pantries were kept locked and the boys were not allowed to eat breakfast unless they woke up by 6 am. The boys were punished by being sent out into the cold without jackets and one of the boys was imprisoned for two days in a furnace room. The boys were also exploited for their labor, being forced to work without pay making furniture for Jessop to sell.

The abuse came to light when one of the boys ran away and reported it to Holding Out Help, a group that assists people leaving polygamous families. The other eight boys were removed from the home by social services. Two of these, brothers, chose to remain in foster care, while the other six were returned to their parents. Jessop pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor injury to a child: one from his imprisonment of the boy in the furnace room, and two from his failure to report to the authorities that both his son and the boy who contacted HOH had run away. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Date: July 10, 2014
Location:
Big Piney, Wyoming; Pocatello, Idaho Continue reading

3 children of Pamela Christensen

pamela christensen
Three girls, ages 19, 16, and 12, were physically assaulted by their mother, Pamela Christensen, in an attempt to murder them. Their father, former pastor Vaughn Christensen, was abusive and controlling of his wife and children, and Pamela was seeking a divorce from him when he called her and ordered her to kill the children. All three girls were homeschooled.

After receiving her husband’s message, Pamela Christensen dressed the girls all in white “to meet Jesus” and tried to get them to drink poison. The girls refused and one called the police; Christensen managed to stab two of the girls and herself before authorities arrived. Christensen was charged with three counts of attempted murder.

Date: September 25, 2014
Location:
Montgomery, Illinois Continue reading

Raashanai Coley

raashanai coley
Raashanai Coley, age 11 (left), was starved and beaten to death by her mother, Nicholette Lawrence (right). Her stepfather Robert Lawrence, who lived in the home, has not been charged. Raashanai was homeschooled and, according to some reports, autistic. Her two younger half-siblings attended school and were apparently not abused.

Around the time of Raashanai’s 2003 birth in Oregon, Nicholette Lawrence lost custody of her first child, a boy, and pleaded guilty to transporting an underage girl across state lines to engage in prostitution. After child services began investigating Lawrence for exposing Raashanai to her adult business, Lawrence signed over guardianship of Raashanai to her own father and stepmother. Lawrence reclaimed her daughter in 2007 when she moved to Texas with her new husband Robert Lawrence; the family moved to Illinois shortly thereafter. In August 2011 Robert Lawrence was charged with battering Raashanai but he continued to live in the home. In June 2012 Raashanai was withdrawn from school to be homeschooled. The family’s neighbors did not know that Raashanai was living in the home, although they frequently saw her siblings.

Raashanai died September 5 after Nicholette Lawrence struck her in the abdomen on September 3, rupturing her stomach. She did not seek medical attention for her daughter. Raashanai weighed 55 lbs. at the time of her death. Lawrence was charged with first-degree murder and her other children were removed from the home.

Date: September 5, 2014
Location:
Waukegan, Illinois Continue reading

Charlie Bothuell V

charlie bothuell
Charlie Bothuell V, age 12, was physically and emotionally abused by his father, Charlie Bothuell IV, and his stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell. Dillard-Bothuell also imprisoned Charlie in the basement for eleven days without food. Dillard-Bothuell’s other two children, 4-year-old Charles Luc Bothuell and 10-month-old Lillian Monique Bothuell, were also neglected. Charlie was homeschooled.

Charlie had lived with his father since 2012. Bothuell forced Charlie to complete an extreme daily exercise regimen and beat him regularly with a PVC pipe. When he was rescued, Charlie had a large scar on his chest from the beatings. Dillard-Bothuell also punched Charlie and threatened to kill him. On June 14, as punishment for Charlie’s failure to complete his exercise routine, Dillard-Bothuell forced him to hide behind a barricade in the basement without food or water, threatening to harm him if he came out. The boy’s father reported him missing and police searched for Charlie until he was found in the basement on June 25.

On June 26, Dillard-Bothuell was arrested on an unrelated charge until police could gather enough evidence to file charges of child abuse against the couple. All three children were removed from the home by social services.

Date: June 25, 2014
Location:
Detroit, Michigan Continue reading

Justin Carlos, and 6 siblings

julie and mark carlos
Justin Gerard Carlos, age 14, was starved and medically neglected by his parents, Mark S. Carlos and Julie L. Carlos. Justin died of pneumonia and sepsis complicated by malnutrition; when he died he was emaciated, covered with bedsores, and showed signs of traumatic brain injury. Justin’s 16-year-old brother was also medically neglected during a similar illness. Justin and his six siblings (Shannon; Michael, 22; Therese, 19; Matthew, 16; Colette, 12; and Maura, 11) were all homeschooled and “cut off from the world”; police reported that they “all appeared thin and not properly cared for…with messy hair and disheveled clothes.”

Michael Carlos called 911 when Justin lost consciousness. He and Matthew were taken to the hospital while the two youngest girls were taken into social services’ custody. The Carloses pleaded not guilty to “negligent cruelty and risk of injury to a minor”. Prosecutions are still ongoing.

Date: May 2, 2013
Location:
Norwich, Connecticut Continue reading

Girl by Leonard Pratt

leonard pratt
A 16-year-old girl was raped daily by her stepfather, karate instructor Leonard Pratt, who sometimes filmed the assaults. The abuse started when she was 13, about two weeks after her mother, Lorena Pratt, married him in April 2001. Lorena Pratt was emotionally abused by her husband and did not know about the girl’s sexual abuse. Pratt repeatedly forced the girl to miss school so that he could assault her; after she failed ninth grade, she was homeschooled.

Social services received six reports of abuse, including one from the girl’s biological father, but the girl always denied the allegations out of fear of her stepfather. Social services had also received reports of Pratt abusing his biological children, but they could not find evidence to substantiate them.

In September 2003, the girl fatally shot her father in the head while he slept. She was “charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon”; however, “a grand jury decided not to indict” her and she was removed to the custody of her biological father.

Date: September 23, 2003
Location:
Elgin, Texas Continue reading

9 children of Peter Lucas Moses Jr.

peter lucas moses
Nine children ages 8 and under were abused by their father, Peter Lucas Moses Jr., and his three wives Vania Rae Sisk (second from left), Lavada Quinzetta Harris (far right), and Larhonda Renee Smith (second from right). Four of the children were Sisk’s and five were Harris’. The children were homeschooled and home-churched in the cult-like Black Hebrews church.

In October 2010, Moses murdered Sisk’s 4-year-old son Jadon Higganbothan—the only one of the children who was not biologically his. In December 2010, Moses ordered Sisk to murder Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, another of his wives, because she could not have children. In February 2011, another of Moses’ wives (who was not publicly identified) escaped and reported the murders to the police. She also reported witnessing “horrific” abuse of the children. Moses and his family immediately fled the state to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Teller County social services found them and removed the children February 23.

Moses and his wives then moved back to Durham, North Carolina, where he was arrested on unrelated charges until the police could find evidence of the murders. They finally located Higganbothan’s and McKoy’s remains in June 2011 and charged Moses with first-degree murder. His wives were also charged. Moses pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty; as a result, he was not tried, so the specific nature of the abuse of the other children was never made public. However, neighbors reported that the children were “rarely seen” and, according to police, they were required to call their father “Lord” and were afraid of him, fearing that he would do to them “what he did to Jadon”.

Moses was sentenced to life in prison. Sisk was sentenced to 30 years, Smith to 24, and Harris to 12.

Date: February 23, 2011
Location:
Durham, North Carolina Continue reading

16 children of Richard Jay Swank

richard jay swank
Sixteen children were physically abused and deprived of food by their father, Richard Jay Swank. The fourth child, a boy born around 1985, was Swank’s scapegoat; he was tortured, imprisoned, and sexually abused for 18 years. The children’s mother, Monita Swank, was “also a victim of physical abuse and possibly spousal rape [and] was not aware of the sexual abuse of her son.” After school officials repeatedly called social services about the children’s bruises, Swank pulled them from school to homeschool them around 1992, although “there were no books or worksheets” and little instruction actually took place. Swank’s daughter Melissa (b. 1982) was put in charge of caring for the younger children; by the time she was 18, she only knew basic addition and subtraction.

Swank was a substitute teacher, public school psychologist, and published author. He referred to the child who was his main victim as an “abomination” and abused him beginning around age 4. Swank forced the boy to spend every day standing in a corner, and the boy was forced to sleep handcuffed to various objects or imprisoned in a box at night. The boy was only allowed to eat table scraps and was not allowed to interact with the other children. Swank constantly beat the boy with a variety of objects and often knocked him unconscious. At one point he broke the boy’s nose, permanently injuring him, and did not seek medical attention for him. Swank also frequently tortured the boy by attaching vice grips to his genitals. When the boy was 10, his father began raping him twice a week.

As each of the children reached the age of 18, they left home and joined the military to escape. In 2005, Joshua Swank (b. 1980) died of an accidental overdose; his father “collected $500,000 on [his] Army life insurance policy and bought a sports car.” The Swanks divorced around this time and Monita took custody of the seven children who remained at home. These events prompted Melissa to persuade her little brother, Swank’s main victim, to report the abuse to the police. He did so in March 2009.

Swank was found guilty of 11 counts of sexual abuse and one count of physical abuse. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Date: March 12, 2009
Location:
Victorville, California Continue reading

15 children of Bill and Debbie Rettew

bill rettew
Fifteen adopted special-needs children of Bill and Debbie Rettew were physically abused, medically neglected, and denied food as punishment. The Rettews had adopted at least nine other special-needs children over the years in addition to their biological daughter Deborah Autumn Rettew (age 24) and Debbie’s biological son from an earlier marriage, Wilbur Beddingfield (age 32). All the children were privately adopted. The Rettews were conservative Christians and homeschooled all their children but one.

The Rettews first came to the attention of social services in November 1998 when one of their adolescent adopted children ran away from home and refused to return, citing physical abuse by Bill Rettew. The court ordered an evaluation of the Rettew children in June 2000; when the evaluation panel returned its review in November 2001, the children were removed. Some of the adult children who no longer lived with the Rettews reported being “slammed into walls, whipped with a belt, and thrown down stairs.” They “did not have their own toothbrushes, [and] were bathed only once a week.” The food storage area was kept locked—when they were rescued, “the children had voracious appetites and commented on the availability of food in the new home”. One of the girls told the authorities that “she was a surrogate mother, waking up at 5 a.m. to feed and clothe the other children.” The children did not receive adequate medical, dental, and mental health care.

In February 2002, as part of a deal to get some of their children back, the Rettews agreed to a court order that found that “they physically and educationally neglected their 15 children.” The court ordered that most of the children be enrolled in public or private school, that they be allowed ample socialization time as decided by the in-home therapy team, and that they be provided with any medical care or therapy advised by social services. At least three of the children asked that they not be returned to the Rettews; it is not clear how many eventually returned.

Date: November 8, 2001
Location:
Greer, Greenville County, South Carolina Continue reading

Child of Recardo and Therian Wimbush

recardo and therian wimbush
Recardo Wimbush Jr., at age 13 the oldest of Recardo Sr. and Therian Wimbush’s ten children, was locked in a lightless basement room for almost two years with only a bucket for a toilet. His siblings were not abused. All 10 children were homeschooled; however, Recardo Jr. had not received any instruction since he was locked in the basement.

The Wimbushes claimed that the boy had been imprisoned for running away and molesting his younger siblings; however, the boy reported that he was being punished for lying and stealing a DVD. Although the Wimbushes were highly educated—Recardo Sr. had played football for Georgia Tech and later finished his degree; Therian was former military had a degree in mechanical engineering—they were also members of a strict religious movement called the Way of Yah, which forbids members to celebrate holidays.

The abuse came to light when an anonymous tip brought social services to the Wimbushes’ home. The Wimbushes were charged with child cruelty and false imprisonment.

Date: June 16, 2014
Location:
Buford, Georgia Continue reading

Son of Daniel Ballard

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A 14-year-old boy was medically neglected and deprived of food by his father, Daniel Ballard, who claimed to be homeschooling him. However, when the boy was rescued, he could reportedly only read “at a fourth-grade level and struggle[d] with basic arithmetic”.

Ballard and the boy’s mother, Kalyn Loe, had lived with the boy in Ohio until they split in 2002. Both had custody of the boy; however, he lived with his mother in Phoenix, Arizona until age 10 when she sent him to New Orleans, Louisiana for a short visit with Ballard in summer 2005. Ballard apparently used the confusion caused by Hurricane Katrina a few months later to abduct the boy, whom he did not allow to contact his mother for four more years. Father and son moved frequently, living in several apartments and RVs and once an abandoned building. Ballard did not take the boy to a doctor during this time: when he was rescued, the boy had several untreated broken bones which had healed improperly and a severe foot infection. The boy also had welts on his back and patches of missing hair. He weighed 60 lbs. when he was found in a feces-filled RV which had no food and no running water.

The abuse came to light in September 2009 when a police officer serving an eviction notice found the boy in the RV. Ballard, who had an outstanding warrant in New Mexico for drugs, was charged with cruelty to a juvenile. The boy was sent back to his mother.

Date: September 9, 2009
Location:
Toca, Louisiana Continue reading

Children of Martin and Kathleen O’Brien

obriens
Six children, ages 9 to 17, were abused by their adoptive parents, Martin and Kathleen O’Brien. Some of the children were homeschooled. The O’Briens’ three biological children (an adult daughter, Diane, and two minor sons) were not abused and were sometimes forced to participate in the abuse.

Four of the children were biological siblings from Russia and two of them were from Guatemala. Following the children’s adoption in 2004, they were subjected to 7 years of abuse, including: being stabbed, sprayed with pepper spray, kicked in the groin, strangled, slapped, forced to stand naked outside in the cold while their family ate dinner inside, deprived of food, imprisoned in a room for days, and forced to kneel for hours on sharp rocks.

The abuse came to light when the children reported it to social services in August 2011. The O’Briens were each charged with 10 counts of felony child abuse as well as several misdemeanors.

Date: August 3, 2011
Location:
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Continue reading

Children of Kelleen Murray-Auguste

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A 10-year-old boy was starved by his mother, Kelleen Deon Murray-Auguste. One of the boy’s eight siblings, a 9-year-old girl, was also 20 percent below her normal body weight. The children were homeschooled.

When the boy was rescued, he weighed 35 lbs. and was “extremely dirty, filthy, hair was matted”. The abuse came to light when the boy escaped from his home and went begging for food at a neighbor’s house. Murray-Auguste claimed that the boy had lived with his father in Haiti until about a month prior and that he had been delivered to her in his malnourished condition. She reported that she had tried to feed him but he couldn’t eat, and that she did not have the resources to get him medical attention.

Murray-Auguste was arrested on charges of “aggravated child abuse/torture and child neglect causing great harm” and pleaded no contest in August 2008. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Date: June 9, 2007
Location:
Port St. Lucie, Florida Continue reading

Antonio Rader

mary rader and deana beighley
Antonio Rader, age 7, was beaten, starved, and tortured by his mother, Mary Rader (right), and her mother and stepfather, Deana (left) and Dennis Beighley. Antonio’s siblings, 11- and 4-year-old sisters and a 9-year-old brother, were not abused, although his brother was underweight. Antonio had attended public school until fall 2013, “at which time his mother enrolled him in a home-based cyberschool.”

Antonio was pulled from school after teachers reported to social services that the boy was always hungry and that Rader had instructed them not to serve him breakfast. Antonio was beaten with belts for stealing food, forbidden from leaving the house, and forced to sleep on the floor in his own urine. He was not allowed to bathe and had life-threatening abscesses in his teeth. He weighed 24 lbs. when he was rescued.

The abuse came to light when Antonio managed to escape from the house and a neighbor saw him and called the authorities. Rader and the Beighleys were each charged with attempted murder, as well as aggravated assault, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child, and conspiracy to commit murder.

Date: June 6, 2014
Location:
Greenville, Pennsylvania Continue reading

3 children of Kate Parker

kate parker
Katherine G. “Kate” Parker had 7 biological children (Megan, 21; Adam, 20; Emily, 14; Sarah and David, 11; Isaac, 9; and Joshua, 7) and 2 adopted children (Bethany, 5; and Hannah, 4; adopted from the Ukraine in 2010). Parker medically abused Joshua, Bethany, and Hannah by lying to doctors and inventing or causing illness or injury. The other children also underwent numerous procedures for medical conditions which were not independently diagnosed. Parker’s husband, Charley Parker, was not aware of the abuse. The children were homeschooled.

Joshua (who had spina bifida) and Bethany and Hannah (who both had Down syndrome) all underwent unnecessary surgeries beginning in 2007 as a result of Parker’s abuse. In late 2012, Hannah was “re-homed.” Parker also capitalized on her lies about the children’s illnesses to fraudulently solicit charitable donations online. When Joshua was hospitalized in September 2013, doctors grew suspicious of Parker’s negative response to news that Joshua’s condition was improving. After Parker’s friend notified social services, Parker coached her other children in how to respond to social workers’ questions. The minor children were removed from Parker’s home.

Parker was arrested on April 1, 2014 for “24 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment, four counts of first-degree assault, one count of child abandonment, four counts of computer crime, four counts of identity theft, five counts of witness tampering and one count of recklessly endangering another.”

Date: September 2013
Location:
Grants Pass, Oregon Continue reading

2 children of Jessica Botzko and John Westover

john westover and jessica botzko
Two boys, ages 10 and 5, were locked in cages by their parents, Jessica Botzko and John Westover, as punishment for stealing food and whenever Westover was making drugs. The older boy was also sometimes forced to wear a dog’s shock collar; he had previously been “removed from the home in 1998 when Botzko was charged with child endangering.” Westover was wanted on child endangering charges stemming from a report of the family living in a filthy hotel room in Maumee, Ohio in 2004. The older boy had attended school until December 2003 but Botzko then pulled him from school, later telling police she was homeschooling him. “Toledo Public Schools has no record of either boy enrolled in the district or their parents applying for home-schooling.” The family moved frequently to avoid the authorities and the boys were not allowed to leave the house. Westover and Botzko also had a daughter who had died, reportedly of SIDS, several years before.

The abuse came to light in May 2007 when the boys were left alone and escaped to a neighbor’s house. The neighbor alerted police. Westover and Botzko both pleaded no contest to child endangering and were sentenced to four years in prison.

Date: May 1, 2007
Location:
Toledo, Ohio Continue reading

Child of August and Jeanine Halbesleben

Tommy Halbesleben, age 10, was starved by his father, August James Halbesleben, and his stepmother Jeanine Marie Halbesleben, from the summer of 1999—when the Halbeslebens began homeschooling him due to “conflicts with his second grade teacher and school officials”—until February 2000. Jeanine had been convicted in 1999 of misdemeanor injury to a child after she hit Tommy’s older brother and ruptured his eardrum.

The Halbeslebens had attended a parenting class where “they were taught that food limitations could be used as a form of discipline.” When Tommy began misbehaving, they limited his food intake to oatmeal, rice, noodles, and beans. The Halbeslebens claimed not to realize their son was starving, believing he was on a healthy diet. After he was rescued, Tommy gained 6 lbs. in the first 24 hours.

The abuse came to light after an anonymous tip brought officials to the Halbeslebens’ home on a welfare check and declared Tommy in immediate danger. The Halbeslebens were convicted of felony injury to a child on November 3, 2000, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Their conviction was overturned in 2003 and they were re-tried. In a plea agreement to avoid further jail time, August Halbesleben “pleaded guilty to two charges of misdemeanor injury to a child and Jeanine Halbesleben pleaded guilty to one felony charge of injury to a child.”

Date: February 2000
Location:
Boise, Idaho Continue reading