Police were horrified to find a nine-year-old child locked outside in freezing temperatures with nothing but a blanket and “a little bit of” food. Police in Lexington, North Carolina were alerted around 7am last Wednesday by an anonymous caller who said the child had been locked inside the dog kennel.
The child wasn’t wearing a coat, gloves or a hat, despite freezing temperatures. The anonymous caller told police they believed the child was being punished and was locked in the cage overnight.
When officers arrived, they found the child in the kennel secured with a padlock.
Officers quickly broke into the kennel and removed the child who was then rushed to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem.
The Sheriff said the child was found in 28 degrees Fahrenheit ( -2 degrees Celsius) outside. The child has since been released from hospital.
Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons said: “I’ve been in law enforcement for 36 years and I’ve never seen anything of this significance.”
He added: “There was some clothes that was there, just bits and pieces, a little bit of food was inside, but not enough to sustain warmth for this child.”
Police entered the home due to the circumstances and found the mother, an infant and a four-year-old child. The other children were reportedly unharmed.
Officers contacted social services to alert them of the conditions the children were found in. Social services have since taken custody of the three children.
Two other children who lived at the home were found safe at school. Sheriff Richie Simmons said detectives had searched the house and property after obtaining a search warrant as part of the investigation.
Jonathan and Sarah Starr were arrested and charged with felony child abuse, misdemeanour child abuse and false imprisonment.
Shelly Barnes, believed to be a relative, has been charged with felony child abuse, misdemeanour child abuse, false imprisonment possession of a firearm by a felon and maintaining a dwelling place for controlled substances.
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The Starrs’ bonds were set $60,000 but have since increased to $100,000 each while Barnes’ bond was set at $60,000 but has increased to $300,000.
Mr Simmons asked those in the local neighbourhood with information to contact police.
He said: “If you see something in your neighbourhood, say something. We want the public to get involved, to make it a combined effort to make Davidson County safer for our kids.
“This is why you get into law enforcement; we fight the battle for those that can’t fight for themselves.”