Police: 7-year-old boy says he sometimes ate bugs to stay alive
(CNN) — A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy beaten for sneaking food was nearly starved and sometimes resorted to eating insects he caught on the back porch, authorities said.
The boy’s mother, Mary Rader, 28, and his grandparents, Dennis and Deana Beighley, turned themselves in at the Mercer County District Attorney’s office Wednesday and were charged with aggravated assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy, according to court documents.
The Sharon Herald reported Saturday that child welfare authorities took the Greenville boy to a hospital last month after he was found looking like a human skeleton.
“The child was starved,” Dr. Jennifer Wolford of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Child Advocacy Center was quoted as saying in a criminal complaint. She described the boy as “the worst case of medical neglect that I have ever seen in my seven years as a pediatrician.”
The unidentified boy lived with his mother and grandparents and three siblings — two sisters, ages 4 and 11, and a 9-year-old brother, the paper reported.
The two girls appeared healthy, the criminal complaint said. The brother was underweight though not as severely as the victim, who weighed 25 pounds when he was taken to a hospital. Information about his height was not available Saturday.
Since June 6, hospital officials said the boy has gained 20 pounds, The Herald reported.
“The most important medicine used to treat him at the hospital was food,” Wolford said in the complaint. “He was within a month of having a major cardiac event that he probably would not have recovered from . … 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.”
Rader and the Beighleys turned themselves into authorities with attorney James Stranahan, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Saturday.
According to the complaint, Rader was home-schooling the victim. The only time he was allowed outside was to be on the back porch, where he sometimes fed on bugs. The boy was only given small portions of tuna fish and eggs.
The victim was often beaten with a belt, sometimes for sneaking bread and peanut butter without permission, the complaint said. He also was punished with ice-cold showers.
The mother and grandparents — who were released on bond — will appear before District Judge Brian Arthur on July 30.
The children have been placed in the care of child welfare authorities.