A Pennsylvania father was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, after confessing in court to abusing and starving his son to death in 2020.
PennLive.com reported that Scott Schollenberger Jr., 43, pleaded guilty to criminal homicide, endangering the welfare of a child, and conspiracy on both counts. On May 26, 2020, the man’s son, Maxwell Schollenberger’s was found dead in a feces-covered room; he was dehydrated, starved, and naked.
For years, Schollenberger Jr. kept his son in the darkened room which only had a bed. He beat and starved the 12-year-old while he did not abuse three other children in the home, which were his and fiancée Kimberly Maurer’s biological children and from Mauer’s previous relationship. The children were reportedly instructed to ignore the slain boy.
“Max Schollenberger’s bedroom was entirely devoid of light and furniture, aside from the bed wherein he died. The bedroom’s windows contained shades and doors. The shades were taped to the window frames and the doors were screwed shut; the window coverings rendered the child unable to see in or out,” Lebanon County prosecutors detailed in a statement.
An autopsy determined that the 12-year-old — who weighed 47.5 pounds — died of starvation, malnutrition, and blunt force trauma to his head and body, the Lebanon Daily Record reported.
The other children in the home told authorities that Schollenberger Jr. and Maurer, 36, barred the victim from leaving his room. One child recalled the boy screaming when the couple would go into his room, according to the news outlet.
The boy’s biological mother, Sara Coon, told the Daily Record that Schollenberger Jr. took their son from her when he was a toddler, after someone led him to believe she was being irresponsible. Coon reportedly lost her job shortly thereafter and began self-harming.
Coon claimed Schollenberger Jr. took full custody after their son called her boyfriend “daddy.” He eventually blocked Coon on social media and stopped answering her calls, she said.
“I always believed he was an excellent father. I had no reason to ever think otherwise. I know he loved this child. He would protect him – I thought to do anything to keep him safe and happy,” she said in October 2020.
Schollenberger Jr. is ineligible for parole. Maurer’s trial is scheduled to begin in March.
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[Featured image: Scott Schollenberger Jr., Kimberly Maurer/Lebanon County District Attorney’s Office]