Missouri mom charged after 10-year-old found locked in closet

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by HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH

Associated Press

Posted on June 24, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 25 at 8:20 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Kansas City woman was charged Saturday with abusing her 10-year-old daughter who weighed just 32 pounds when she was found locked in a closet that reeked of urine.

The 29-year-old woman faces charges of assault and child abuse and endangerment in Jackson County Circuit Court. The Associated Press is not naming the mother to protect the child's identity. Prosecutors are requesting that bond be set at $200,000.

Officers freed the girl after responding Friday morning to a call to a child abuse hotline. Neighbors told police that they didn't know the malnourished child taken from the public housing complex even lived there.

When officers first arrived, two women told the officers that the mother had left about 20 minutes earlier with two girls, whom they described as "clean and well fed," a Kansas City officer said in the probable cause statement.

A social services worker said there should be three children at the home. But the women insisted, "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," the probable cause statement said.

Officers ultimately made their way into the apartment, where they found a portable crib pushed up against a bedroom closet, which was tied closed. The officers asked if anyone was inside, and a child's voice answered "yes," the probable cause statement said.

The girl told officers that her mother took her sisters out to breakfast, but she didn't go because "she messes herself."

The girl was transported to a Children's Mercy Hospital, where she was diagnosed with multiple skin injuries. Hospital staff said she had gained just 6 pounds since she last was at the hospital six years earlier.

The girl told detectives who interviewed her at the hospital that her mother puts her in the closet "a lot," that she doesn't get to eat every day and that she "does not want to go back home anymore." The girl also said she gets in trouble "because she keeps peeing on herself" and her mother will "punch her on her back real hard," according to the probable cause statement.

The mother was arrested later Friday and the two younger children were placed in protective custody. The mother told police she doesn't let the 10-year-old leave the house because she knows the girl is malnourished and would "get in trouble if someone saw her."

The mother's boyfriend, who is not the girl's father and hasn't been charged, said he hadn't seen the girl in about a year. He said that when he asked about her, the mother told him she was with her aunt or in her room because she was in trouble. He said he never knew the mother put the girl in the closet or "he would have done something about it," the probable cause statement said.

Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the Jackson County prosecutor's office, said the mother hasn't said why she singled the girl out.

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