BROWN COUNTY, Ohio (AP/WJW) — An 11-year-old girl who was starved and neglected is free after enduring years of horrendous living conditions.
According to FOX 19, the Brown County Prosecutor’s Office said the girl was starved and forced to sleep on a urine-stained mattress in a trailer.
Investigators were alerted of the situation by the a teacher who was administering an online test to the girl. The instructor heard the 11-year-old student say she was hungry and only allowed to eat a small plate of rice each day.
When authorities found the girl in September, she was severely malnourished, weighing just just 47 pounds, and living in filth. Investigators believe she had been isolated at home and mistreated for at least the past three years.
The girl weighed roughly 30 pounds under the average weight for a girl her age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“They had her in diapers,” Brown County Prosecutor Zac Corbin told FOX 19. “She was in a diaper when the officer went out and found her, presumably because there was no restroom in that trailer.”
The family denied abusing the girl and said they kept a camera in her room because she would attempt to get out of house, sheriff’s detective Quinn Carlson told The News Democrat of Georgetown.
“It’s just a wonder she got out of there when she did,” he said. “Where she was kept, it was not livable.”
The girl’s legal custodian, 47-year-old Margaret Breeze, of Georgetown, was charged two weeks ago with child endangering, kidnapping and felonious assault. She has since pleaded not guilty and remains in the county jail, about 40 miles east of Cincinnati.
The girl had been living with Breeze since she was 6 years old after a court in Kentucky granted her custody, Corbin said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether they were related.
Breeze homeschooled the girl and last to took her to a doctor when she was 8, he said. Records from that visit showed she weighed 51 pounds then, meaning she had lost 4 pounds during the past three years, Corbin said.
The girl spent two weeks in the hospital after she was rescued and diagnosed with a disorder brought on by severe malnutrition and usually only seen in people from undeveloped areas of the world experiencing famine. Officials say she’s doing much better now and has gained about 15 pounds.
Investigators are continuing to look at whether there are other suspects or people who could have helped the girl.
Breeze is married, and there were other children living in the house, but there were no signs they had been mistreated, he said. Those children also have been removed from the home, a converted church that sat alongside a cemetery.
Authorities did recover recordings of the child being yelled at and threatened, but it’s unclear who was yelling.
The Associated Press left a message with Breeze’s attorney seeking comment on Thursday. Calls to her home were not answered.