A 7-year-old boy was nearly starved to death, suffered regular beatings and resorted to catching insects to eat during brief times he was allowed outside, police said in charging his mother and grandparents with assault and other offenses.
Child welfare workers, responding to a complaint, found the child looking like a human skeleton in home in Greenville, in western Pennsylvania, last month, The Sharon Herald reported Saturday.
The mother, 28-year-old Mary C. Rader, and the grandparents who lived with them, Dennis C. Beighley, 58, and Deana Beighley, 47, were charged with assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment, endangering a child's welfare and conspiracy.
Online court records did not list attorneys for them. A home phone number could not be located.
The boy weighed 25 pounds when taken to a hospital last month and has since gained 20 pounds, authorities said.
"The most important medicine used to treat him at the hospital was food. He was within a month of having a major cardiac event that he probably would not have recovered from," said Dr. Jennifer Wolford of UPMC Children's Hospital Child Advocacy Center.
"It is impossible to me that this severe neglect and active abuse was not visible. He was being starved in his own home around others of normal weight," she stated.
The boy's two sisters, ages 4 and 11, appeared healthy, while a 9-year-old brother was underweight but not as severely as the 7-year-old.
According to police, Rader decided to homeschool the 7-year-old last year, and he was not allowed outside the house except to the back porch, where he would sometimes eat the bugs he caught. He was fed small amounts of tuna and eggs and suffered beatings with a belt — particularly when he sneaked food, usually peanut butter and bread, police said.
He was forced to take ice-cold showers as punishment — the only showers he was allowed — and had two abscessed teeth that had to be removed, police said.
Wolford described it as the worst case of medical neglect that the hospital's doctors have encountered.
Rader and the Beighleys were released on bond, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 30.