W., a girl born in 2009, was starved, imprisoned, and abused by her foster mother, Melissa Lin Keister. No charges were filed involving Keister’s husband, Allen Keister, or the six other children who lived in the home. W. was homeschooled.
Keister was active in her church and Milton Little League. Keister’s abuse of W. began in 2015. W. was starved for up to a week at a time: she would eat crumbs off the floor and frozen food because she was starving, and the other children would sneak her food. Keister claimed W. had a mental health disorder that prevented anyone else from feeding her; however, W. gained more than 20 lbs. in two months after she was removed from Keister’s home. On at least 50 occasions, when Keister caught W. eating food she was not supposed to, Keister forced W. to drink vinegar until she vomited. W. was also forced to sleep naked inside a square of tape on the floor in her bedroom; her bedroom had an alarm system, was equipped with a baby monitor, and had a boarded-up window. She was forced to take cold showers at night if she slept on her knees; if she “fell asleep while being home-schooled…she had to run laps around the house or do wall squats,” sometimes for up to two hours. W. was also beaten with a back scratcher and paddle, and on one occasion Keister struck W.’s head against the corner of a desk 20 times. Keister also drugged W. to make her sleep.
W. jumped out a window and ran away from home twice in early 2018; the whole neighborhood searched for her and returned her to her home. Neighbors called the authorities several times to report W.’s abuse, but it was finally investigated after “a home health aide called the Childline in April.” Two other social work professionals who had spent time in the home corroborated the abuse. Keister was charged with child endangerment, neglect, and reckless endangerment.
Date: April 7, 2018
Location: New Columbia, Pennsylvania