Couple charged in 6-year-old's death allegedly used starvation as punishment

JERSEYVILLE, Ill. – Two adults have been charged with first-degree murder after a 6-year-old Illinois boy died from extreme malnourishment, officials said.

Michael Roberts, the boy's father, and Georgena Roberts, his stepmother, have been charged with first degree murder. They also face two counts of endangering the life and health of a child, according to KTVI.

On Friday, Jerseyville police were called to the Jersey Community Hospital after the malnourished 6-year-old was pronounced dead.

Investigators said the pair deprived the 6-year old and a 7-year-old sibling of food as a form of punishment. The boy lived with three siblings, and two stepsiblings. The surviving children have all been taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services.

Preliminary autopsy findings determined the cause of death was “failure to thrive due to extreme malnourishment.”

Michael and Georgena Roberts are both in custody in the Jersey County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

Jerseyville Police continue to investigate.