Mother Charged After Girl, 10, Weighing 32 lbs. Found Locked in Closet
Gia Vang, Fox4KC, Reporting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A mother faces multiple charges for locking her 10-year-old daughter in a closet. Police found the girl Friday in a small closet where she was forced to stand in own urine and feces.
Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker said Jacole N. Prince faces assault in the first-degree for knowingly causing serious physical injury to her daughter by failing to provide proper nutrition. The 29-year-old mother is also charged with abuse of a child because Peters-Baker said Prince knowingly inflicted cruel and inhuman punishment on her daughter. Prince also faces a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
Peters-Baker said Prince locked her daughter in a closet from time to time at their apartment on Highland Avenue near 13th Street.
Neighbors said they were suprised because they didn’t know Prince had another child living in the home.
“Every time we do go to Jacole’s house, we would knock on the door, tell her to come out, see what she’s doing,” said Peaches Burrell, neighbor. “She wouldn’t open the door all the way. She would come out and shut the door behind her.”
Police said the victim, who is only identified as “LP” in court documents, was found Friday after someone anonymously tipped off authorities through the child abuse hotline.
Documents reveal officers cleared the first floor of the apartment and proceeded to the second floor. It states they detected a strong odor of urine at the top of the stairs. Court documents then state police noticed a portable crib pushed next to two closet doors that were tied off with a small rope in one room. Officers asked, “Is anyone in here?” Then they heard a child’s voice answer, “Yes.” Officers had to slide the crib out of the way and use a pocket knife to cut the rope.
The document states LP was standing in the closet and stated it was her room.
Court documents also state hospital personnel said LP weighed just 32 pounds, which is severely malnourished for her age. The last time hospital personnel said the victim visited a hospital was in 2006. They said she weighed 26 pounds then.
LP told police she didn’t get to eat everyday, she never got to play outside and would oftentimes use that closet — about 3 feet by 6 feet — as her bathroom.
“We know it not to be normal, we know it to be completely atrocious, and in fact, so does the suspect in this case who also admitted to knowing that she treated her differently and that she probably should not have kept her in the closet,” Peters-Baker said.
Peters-Baker said it’s unclear how long or how often LP was treated this way. She said although the details might be disturbing to some, in some ways this is good news because LP is no longer in this situation. Peters-Baker said LP is expected to get better.
“She was very cooperative with police and she let them know that she does not want to go back home,” Peters-Baker said.
Some of Prince’ neighbors are furious, knowing that for the five years Prince lived there and allowed her other two daughters to play with the neighborhood kids, another child in the home needed help.
“Knowing that I lived in the middle of where the little girl was — it’s just heartbreaking,” Burrell said.
Neighbors wonder why Prince’ boyfriend, Marcus Benson, has not been charged. They claim Benson was at the apartment often visiting his two daughters he fathered with Prince and he should’ve known something was going on.
“He was always over here, took showers and baths, ironed, all that, so how come he didn’t know?” Burrell said.
Police documents state Benson had not seen LP in about a year, and that Prince told him sometimes LP was with her aunt or in Prince’s room because she was in trouble. Benson told police he never knew Prince put LP in the closet. If he did, he would’ve done something about it.
“At this time, there are no charges pending against the boyfriend,” said Peters-Baker. “I don’t know if there will ever be against the boyfriend, but it is an ongoing investigation.”
Prince’s other two daughters, a 2-year-old and an 8-year-old, are in protective custody.