Three children–Rose* (b.c. 2010), Mason* (b.c. 2012), and Sophie* (b. 2013)–were starved, tortured, and imprisoned by their adoptive parents, Joseph and Jennifer Wolfthal. The children were homeschooled.
The Wolfthals adopted the children in 2014. Jennifer Wolfthal had spent eight years as a 4th grade public school teacher before resigning in order to homeschool her adopted children and become a children’s book author, publishing her book entitled A Real Friend in November 2020. Rose reported that she was starved, fed only bran flakes, water, and vegetable puree. Rose also reported that she was frequently beaten with an object until she bled. The children were kept locked in their bedrooms to prevent them from interacting with each other or with any other adult, and each night Jennifer Wolfthal would douse them in cold water as they lay in their beds (which consisted only of a plastic mattress cover) and then blow them dry with a box fan. The children were only infrequently allowed to use the bathroom or bathe. Rose was forced to spend all day exercising in her room and writing lines, including “My body stays flat on the bed at all times. I was never given permission to move or say anything. Now I get to write about this along with everything else. I’m a fool.” Each time she was punished, Rose was told it was because she “couldn’t stop sinning.”
Joseph Wolfthal claimed he worked 10-hour days as a software analyst at Lockheed Martin and left his wife primarily in charge of childcare. He also reported that his wife had beaten and imprisoned him when he tried to intervene in her abuse of the children. However, the children reported that both parents participated in the abuse, and that Joseph Wolfthal had refused to provide medical care when they had requested it from him.
The abuse came to light when Joseph Wolfthal took Sophie to the hospital, where she had to be transferred for treatment of “staph infection, sepsis, renal and liver failure, open infected wounds on both legs and pneumonia in both lungs.” After healthcare workers reported their concerns to the authorities, Rose and Mason were both hospitalized for treatment of “open wounds, skin infections and malnutrition.” The Wolfthals were both charged with aggravated child abuse, child neglect, and false imprisonment. Joseph Wolfthal also filed for divorce.
*These names are pseudonyms.
Date: January 1, 2021
Location: Casselberry, Florida