Alabama adoptive parents starve teen, force him to live in basement

He weighed just 47 pounds when discovered

New details emerged in the case of a 14-year-old Alabama boy who was kept locked in the basement of his adoptive parents’ home and starved for months. reports that Richard and Cynthia Kelly, adoptive parents of the teen, had their first court appearance on Wednesday morning at the Shelby County courthouse. It was revealed that couple received $500 a month from the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to take care of the boy. Instead of using the money to feed and take care of their son, the suspects allegedly starved him and kept him in a basement, with only an Algebra textbook to read and box-springs to sleep on.

The abuse was discovered on November 12, when Richard Kelly took the teen to a local hospital due to the child being “ill for about a week.” The boy was airlifted to Children’s of Alabama, where doctors weighed him in at only 47 pounds. According to Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar, physicians said the boy was severely dehydrated, malnourished, and suffering from numerous other medical conditions, including shock, acute respiratory distress, hypothermia, and hypothyroid. The boy was extremely close to death, but luckily, the medical worked diligently, and he’s now recovering.

Two days later, Richard and Cynthia Kelly were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse. The arrest warrants accuse the couple of denying basic needs and care to the teen, who was “subjected to forced isolation for extended period of time.”

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Neither of the suspects had a previous criminal record. Both have lived in the Helen, Alabama, area for around 20 years. Richard once worked as a computer technician while Cynthia home-schooled their adoptive kids. Regardless, they’re being held at the Shelby County Jail on $1 million bond each. Cynthia’s attorney, Barry Alvis, argued that the bond amount was ridiculously expensive.

“There are people bonded out in Shelby County on murder cases for less than that.”

The couple also adopted the teen’s older brother, Eddie Carter, now 18. He lives in Arizona now, as far away as he could get from his parents. He said he went through the same thing as his brother, and was often locked in the basement and denied food for long stretches of time.

“You’re down there and nobody knows you’re down there except the people in the house,” Carter told “It’s up to those people to make sure everything’s going to be all right and it’s not all right and you’re kinda lost. You sit in the corner and weigh out what means the most. It was horrible. Horrific.” It gets to that point where you’re like an animal. You feel like an animal.”

The suspects both pleaded not guilty. Cynthia told police that the teen’s behavior was out of control and that she felt he was a threat to the family’s well-being. If convicted, both face a sentence of 20 years in prison.

[Feature Photo: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office]