Questions Arise Over Handling Of 40-Pound Teen (page 570576)
ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — A 15-year-old Indiana girl who was found covered in feces and weighing less than 40 pounds had shown signs of malnutrition as far back as 2010, but a prosecutor says a child services investigation was dismissed before it ever went before a judge.
The information was one of several troubling details to emerge Wednesday as the girl fought for her life in an Indianapolis hospital and investigators worked to determine what led up to her current condition.
The girl, who turns 16 in two weeks, was taken to a hospital Monday after someone in the home called an ambulance. Authorities found her in a locked room with feces and blood on the walls and floor. Her bones were protruding from her skin.
The girl’s grandfather and his wife are in custody on preliminary charges of neglect of a dependent and battery. Formal charges are expected later in the week.
Records show a doctor suspected the girl was malnourished in 2010. A Child in Need of Services case involving the girl was opened Sept. 27, 2010, and dismissed Nov. 9, 2010, when the girl was 11, WRTV-TV reported.
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings on Wednesday said a case manager was assigned to the girl at one point but that there was no apparent follow-up when the case was closed.
“Someone should have been checking in on this child to make sure her welfare was cared for, and clearly that didn’t happen,” he said. “The ball was dropped somewhere.”
A Department of Child Services spokesman declined to comment on specifics of the case, citing confidentiality laws, but noted that courts, not the agency, decide whether to accept a petition for services.
The girl’s grandfather told police he was her court-appointed guardian because his daughter had abandoned the girl. He said the girl, who has a chromosomal disorder, had fallen Monday and several days earlier and that her condition had grown worse.
Anderson schools Superintendent told WRTV that the girl’s grandfather withdrew her from school to be homeschooled in late 2010.
The Associated Press is not naming the man and his wife to protect the girl’s identity.
Anderson Police Detective Joel Sandefur told WTHR-TV that the grandfather and his wife had been receiving $720 a month in assistance for the girl’s care but that police weren’t sure where the money went.
“We know where the money was not being spent. It wasn’t being spent on those life essentials,” he said.
A relative of the girl told police she weighed 95 pounds in 2013.
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