The police are investigating the discovery of a malnourished 10-year-old girl found locked up in the closet of her mother's apartment on Friday, in Kansas City, Missouri. She was found locked in a closet that stank of her urine and body waste.
The mother Jacole Prince, was charged on Saturday with assault and child abuse and endangerment in Jackson County Circuit Court.
KMBC reports that the girl was discovered in an apartment in the 1300 block of Highland Avenue after officers were sent there on a welfare check. According to police, the girl was found sitting on her urine and feces and appeared to have been in the closet for a long time.
The girl identified as "LP" to protect her identity, told detectives that her mother locked her up in the closet "a lot" and that she does not eat regularly. She also told police that her mother often punches her "back real hard."
KCTV5 reports police say the girl weighed only about a third of the normal weight of a girl her age, about 32lb. She was found in a closet that was rigged so that it could only be opened from the outside.
According to Daily Mail, prosecutors are requesting that bond be set at $200,000 for the mother, Prince.
The girl was discovered after officers responded to a call to a child abuse hotline. Neighbors told police that they did not know that the girl lived in the house, a public housing complex.
Daily Mail reports that when the officers arrived, neighbors told them that Prince and her two daughters had gone out. The neighbors said the two girls were clean and well fed looking. When social service workers insisted there should be three children in the house, one of the neighbors said, "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 an aunt."
When the officers entered the apartment, they found a bedroom closet. A voice answered "yes," when the officers asked if there was anyone inside the closet.
According to the 10-year-old girl, her mother took her sisters out to breakfast but she couldn't go with them because she "messes herself."
The girl was taken to Children's Mercy Hospital where hospital staff said she had gained only 6 pounds since she was last seen at the hospital six years ago. Hospital staff said she had been in hospital because of "failure to thrive."
According to KMBC, the girl, who was diagnosed of multiple skin injuries, said she did not want to go back home anymore. She said she gets into trouble because she "keeps peeing on herself."
CBS St. Louis reports the mother, Prince, was arrested later on Friday and the other two children were placed in protective custody. She told police that she doesn't let the girl leave the house because she is malnourished and she could get into trouble if someone saw her.
A neighbor, Kelisha Parrish, who saw the girl when social service workers carried her out, said: "She was really, really skinny like they barely fed her, and it looked like her eyes were like black and darkened shut and she had on a really big, dingy shirt so you could barely tell she was extra skinny."
Parrish told KCTV5: "All I saw were police outside and I looked out the window and I saw a little girl. I thought it was a girl who'd run away or something, but one of my auntie's friends came and told us they found the girl in the closet. She looked like they hadn't really been feeding her. She was very skinny and had on a big, white dingy shirt that was turning brown. She looked small like a little small 5-year-old, 6-year-old little kid."
According to KMBC, another neighbor Kimberly Kelley, who lived in the area for three years said she knew about two younger children living in the apartment but was unaware of the 10-year-old. Kelley said: "She told us she only had two kids. I couldn't understand it. Who would actually keep their baby, a 10-year-old, in the closet?"
Kelly told Fox4: “The lady herself is very quiet. Basically she had two other children that looked fine. Very clean.Very everything.They seemed to have fun.They had music on.They were outside all day."
Dorothy Burrell, who said she tried "reaching out" to Prince, who she alleged was in a relationship she described as "controlling," told KCTV5: "I never seen anything like she had another child, but you could see the abuse that she was going through with her kids' father."
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, told KCTV5: "While she is expected to thrive again, she's in a very bad situation, a very serious situation. Being 32 pounds, she was very dirty and unkempt. But, amazingly, as children tend to surprise all of us, she had very good spirits."
Prince's boyfriend, who is not the father of the girl has not been charged. He said he hadn't seen the girl in about a year and that Prince had told him she was with her aunt. He said he never knew that she put the girl in the closet. He claimed he would have done something about it if he had known.
Daily Mail reports that Prince appears to dote on the two younger girls and she has not explained to police why she singled the eldest girl out for such treatment.