Three people were arrested in North Carolina after they allegedly forced a 9-year-old to spend the night locked inside an outdoor dog kennel during below-freezing temperatures, police said.
The victim’s father and stepmother, Jonathan and Sarah Starr, were booked after Davidson County officers discovered the young child padlocked inside the cage just before 7 a.m. Oct. 19, when temperatures were at 28 degrees, Sheriff Richie Simmons said at a press conference. Shelley Barnes, the victim’s aunt, was also arrested.
The child was left with some food and clothing, but “not enough to sustain warmth for this child,” Simmons said. Social services officials took the child into custody, along with an infant, a 4-year-old and two elementary-age children who all lived in the home.
All five children are currently in safe conditions with county officials, Simmons said.
Sheriffs believe this wasn’t the first night one of the children spent inside the kennel.
“This is, we believe, what not to be an isolated state of offense. It’s been going on for a span of time,” Simmons said.
Police could not disclose further details on the history of alleged abuse in the Starr home as the investigation continues.
“I’ve been in law enforcement 36 years. This is the first time I’ve seen something quite this significant. To be honest with you,” an unidentified officer said at the press conference.
The Starrs and Barnes were charged with various counts of child abuse and false imprisonment. Barnes, who officials said is a felon, was also slapped with additional charges for allegedly holding some type of undisclosed drugs in the home and possessing a firearm.