Teen weighs 55 pounds after be­ing locked in base­ment for two years

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - WEATHER -

A 14-yearold boy who weighs about 55 pounds is fight­ing for his life in a hos­pi­tal after spend­ing much of two years locked away in the base­ment of his subur­ban Alabama home, au­thor­i­ties said Tues­day.

Au­thor­i­ties said the teen was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, and court records showed that his adop­tive par­ents, Richard and Cyn­thia Kelly, were charged with ag­gra­vated child abuse.

Bond for each was set at $1 mil­lion.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan Sun­day, when He­lena po­lice were no­ti­fied of the boy’s ar­rival at the hos­pi­tal. The boy was chron­i­cally mal­nour­ished, de­hy­drated and close to death, He­lena Po­lice Chief Pete Fol­mar said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence.

“It is our be­lief that he spent an ex­tended pe­riod of time in what I would term as a forced iso­la­tion,” Fol­mar said.

A neigh­bor, who would not give her name to The As­so­ci­ated Press, said she re­cently saw a young man she be­lieved to be the youth in the back­yard cut­ting grass and no­ticed that he was “very small” and strug­gled with the lawn mower.

“The fa­ther was just watch­ing him,” said the woman.

Lo­cated in a bed­room com­mu­nity about 25 miles south of Birm­ing­ham, the house where the fam­ily lived has a bas­ket­ball goal out­side. A ball rested near the base of the pole.

Po­lice said a 19-yearold and a 21-year-old also lived at the home. One of the young adults is the vic­tim’s adop­tive sib­ling, Fol­mar said, and the other is a friend.

The 14-year-old and his sib­ling were sup­pos­edly home-schooled and weren’t en­rolled in any pub­lic school, au­thor­i­ties said.

Ac­cord­ing to ar­rest war­rants, the cou­ple was ac­cused of deny­ing food, nour­ish­ment and med­i­cal care to the boy. The boy suf­fered from chronic mal­nour­ish­ment and shock, the war­rant said.

Fol­mar said the case was the worst in­stance of ne­glect he had ever seen.

“Like most of the peo­ple here at the po­lice depart­ment, I’m a par­ent and you just strug­gle to wrap your head around it,” Fol­mar said.

Barry Spear, a spokesman for the Alabama Depart­ment of Hu­man Re­sources, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that a lo­cal hos­pi­tal on Sun­day morn­ing re­ported the child’s con­di­tion to child wel­fare au­thor­i­ties. He said the depart­ment did not have any prior re­ports of abuse or ne­glect in­volv­ing the teen.

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