A Kansas City woman was arrested and charged Saturday with abusing her 10-year-old daughter who weighed just 32 pounds when she was found locked in a closed that reeked of urine.
The Associated Press is not naming the mother to protect the child’s identity.
The 29-year-old woman faces charges of assault, child abuse and endangerment in Jackson County Circuit Court. Prosecutors are requesting bond be set at $200,000.
Officers responded to a call to a child abuse hotline and freed the child from the locked closet. Neighbors told police they didn’t know the malnourished little girl was even living in the public housing complex.
Two women told officers when they first arrived that the mother had left 20 minutes earlier with two younger girls. They described the children as “clean and well fed,” a Kansas City officer said in a probable cause statement.
A social services worker said there should be three children at the home. The neighbor insisted, “No, we have lived here for several years, and she only has two daughters that stay here, and we have never seen the other girl, but we heard she stays with the father or the aunt,” the probable cause statement said.
When officers entered the apartment they found a portable crib pushed against a bedroom closet, which was tied closed. When they asked one of the other children if anyone was inside, the child said, “yes,” the probable cause statement said.
The 32-pound girl told officers that her mother took her sisters out to breakfast but that she didn’t go because “she messed herself.”
The child was transported to Children’s Mercy Hospital where she was diagnosed with multiple skin injuries. Hospital staff said she had gained only six pounds since they last saw her at the hospital six years earlier.
Detectives interviewed the girl at the hospital. She told them that her mother puts her in the closet “a lot” and that she doesn’t get to eat every day. She said she “does not want to go back home anymore.”
The girl also said she gets in trouble “because she keeps peeing on herself” and her mother will “punch her on her back real hard,” according to the probable cause statement.
Police arrested her mother later Friday. The two younger children were placed in protective custody. The mother said to police that the reason she doesn’t take her older daughter out in public is because she is malnourished and she would “get in trouble if someone saw her.”
The woman’s boyfriend claims he never knew the little girl was locked in a closet and has not been charged. He said he hadn’t seen her in about a year and was told by the mother that the child was with her aunt or in her room because she was in trouble. He said if he’d known she was locking the little girl in the closet he “would have done something about it,” the probable cause statement said.
According to Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, the mother has not said why she singled out her oldest daughter.
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