Every now and again an abuse case appears in the news that seems to be so severe, so horrifying, that it captures the public’s imagination and inflames the media. Right now in Alabama there seems to be a case that fits that description perfectly, with tales of a malnourished teenager who was locked in his parent’s basement for years.
According to numerous media sources, a 14-year-old boy, weighing no more than 55 Lbs, was recently admitted to the hospital. The boy, who had been adopted by a couple in Helena, Alabama, was allegedly in critical condition when he arrived at the hospital. Helena Police were notified by medical staff, as the boy’s condition led to immediate suspicions of child abuse.
The boy was said to be severely dehydrated and malnourished. According to a height and weight chart provided by mdhealth.com, 55 pounds is an average weight for an 8-year-old boy. Because the victim is 14-years-of-age, he should weigh approximately twice that, although witnesses have described him as “very small.” Height does play a role in helping to define a person’s normal weight, so until we know the boy’s height, we won’t know what a normal range is for him specifically.
Media sources say that the parents, Richard and Cynthia Kelly, have been charged with Aggravated Child Abuse, which is a Class B felony in Alabama. Because Michigan’s penal code differs significantly from Alabama’s, the charges would be different if this case had happened here. It is our assumption that had this taken place in Michigan, the charges would most likely have been First Degree Child Abuse.
According to the Helena Police Department’s arrest warrants, the Kellys are accused of denying the boy food, nourishment and medical care. In Michigan, not providing medical care for a child who requires it is usually charged as a form of Child Neglect. Medical Neglect is defined as a parent or guardian’s failure to provide adequate medical or dental care for a child, specifically when that care seriously jeopardizes the child’s health.
It is also alleged that they disciplined the boy by forcing him to be isolated from other people for extended periods of time. It was the long periods of isolation, coupled with the lack of food and water, that resulted in his worsening condition. This in turn led his parents to finally take him to the hospital. In the words of Helena police Chief Pete Folmar, “It’s the worst case of neglect that I have ever seen.”
Allegedly another adopted child also lives in the home, although police records reveal that this other child is a legal adult at age 19, and is in good health. No reasons have been made public for why one child was allegedly abused and neglected to this degree, while another was not. As of now, the Kellys are both in the Shelby County Jail, where they are each being held on $1 million dollar bonds. We will keep an eye on this case as it develops, and keep you updated in the event of major changes.