A jail inmate’s telephone conversation led police to a 3-year old girl in Pulaski County, Indiana, who they believe was often locked inside a wooden box filled with dead bugs and debris, reported WSBT 22, Fox News.
Deputies heard the inmate at Westville Correctional Facility, Westville, Indiana, discussing the girl locked in a box and went to the North Judson, Indiana, home. Once there, they found the 3-year old girl asleep inside a wooden box filled with dead bugs and debris, reported reported NBC 4.
“Never seen anything like this,” Sheriff Jeffrey Richwine told WNDU-16, adding the case the worst incident of child abuse he’s ever seen. “It’s one of those deals, you go there and think, ‘Hopefully this is not true.’ Nobody’s going to have a small girl in a box, that’s just not going to happen. And you go there, when they say it, you just don’t believe it, you’re thinking, ‘My God, who would do this?'”
Nine people face neglect charges in the case including the girl’s father Christopher Short, 25, her stepmother Donna Short, 42 and Patricia Meeks, 18, whose relationship to the girl was not made public, according to NBC 4. Six other people, including four teenagers, face charges for failure to report child abuse, NBC 4 reported.
Donna Short said the young girl opted to spend nights in the box. Christopher Short told authorities the young girl went to and from the box at will, according to WNDU.
But at least one relative believes the treatment was anything but optional or humane.
“I’ve seen people treat their animals better,” the girl’s grandfather Frank Jackson told WNDU. “It’s like a nightmare and I wish I’d wake up.”
Jackson told WNDU that since the child’s mother, his daughter, died he has rarely seen his granddaughter or other grandchildren.
Child Protective Services took custody of the girl. Officials declined to identify the whereabouts of the child, citing privacy concerns.