Police arrest mother of emaciated 10-year-old forced to live sealed in closet
posted at 1:13 pm on June 25, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
At first blush, the story sounds as apocryphal as it does tragic. It conjures up images of the evil twin locked in the attic, the insane half-brother secreted away in a basement dungeon. Sadly, it is all too real.
The Kansas City Star reports that police responding last Friday to a call received by a child abuse hotline visited an apartment where they found a 10-year-old living in a closet barricaded shut by a crib stuffed with blankets and shoes. The child was surrounded by her own filth and severely malnourished. Her weight was recorded at 32 pounds, less than half the average normal weight for a female her age.
Later the same day, police tracked down her mother, Jacole Prince, 29, at a boyfriend’s residence. Prince’s other two “normal” daughters, ages 2 and 8, were with her and appeared well-fed and cared-for. They were placed in protective custody and Prince was arrested. On Saturday, she was charged with assault, abuse of a child, and endangering a child’s welfare.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker described the living conditions of the “odd child out” as “completely atrocious,” adding, “All indicators are she spent a substantial amount of time in that room.”
The child, identified only as “LP,” was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital. There she told authorities that “she doesn’t get to eat every day” and that she “does not want to go back home anymore.” The child also said she gets in trouble “because she keeps peeing on herself” and that her mother will “punch her on her back real hard” when she misbehaves.
Longtime neighbors report never having seen the child, with many saying they were unaware that a third child lived in the apartment. Baker said that authorities were still trying to determine whether LP ever attended school.
The mother’s boyfriend has also denied knowledge of the child’s existence, a claim that seems highly improbable if he ever visited Prince’s apartment. Police note that when they first entered the apartment on Friday they were instantly greeted by a powerful stench of feces and urine. Prosecutor Baker said she has not ruled out further charges because the investigation is ongoing and it is too early to say how long the abuse has been occurring.
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