INDIANA (WITI) -- Indiana grandparents have been arrested and charged after their 15-year-old granddaughter, whom police say is mentally disabled, was found to have been kept locked away from the world -- living in filth without adequate heat and food. Police say the girl weighed less than 40 pounds when she was found.
FOX6's sister station, FOX59 in Indiana reports 58-year-old Steve Sells was arrested on Monday night, December 1st. Joetta Sells, the girl's grandmother, was arrested on Tuesday.
Steve and Joetta Sells are facing charges of neglect of a dependent and battery. Steve Sells faces an additional charge for criminal confinement.
FOX59 reports police executed a search warrant at a home in Anderson, Indiana, where the 15-year-old girl lived with her grandparents.
When police arrived at the home they observed the girl so thin, her bones were protruding from her skin. She was flown to the hospital.
FOX59 reports Steve Sells told police he was the girl's legal guardian because his daughter had abandoned her. Sells told police the girl had a chromosome problem in her brain that cause her to have health problems -- saying she had fallen in recent days, which caused her condition to worsen.
Police say the girl is mentally disabled.
Police searched the home, and FOX59 reports they found an upstairs bedroom with a lock at the top of the door. Inside, they found a mattress, space heater, blankets, a bowl with oatmeal and a bucket. Police found blood on the floor, and feces on everything in the room -- according to court documents obtained by FOX59.
“It’s very disturbing. We wouldn’t accept treatment of an animal this way let alone a human being," Detective Joel Sandefur told FOX59.
FOX59 reports police spoke with a four-year-old girl who lives in the home. She told them the 15-year-old girl was locked in a room, and that she would sometimes “stick her fingers out around the door trying to get out.”
When police asked Steve Sells about locking the girl in the bedroom, FOX59 reports Sells said he did it "to protect himself" and said “she was very strong, and that he would have to squeeze (her) arm because she would approach him with a knife.”
Police noted that the girl weighed less than 40 pounds when she was discovered, while Sells said he weighs between 200 and 225 pounds.
Steve Sells told police he hadn’t taken the girl in for a medical exam since January 2012.
Court documents obtained by FOX59 show Steve Sells was awarded custody of the girl in 2009. Sells appeared in court on November 6th in regards to child support issues involving the girl.
A prosecutor told FOX59 DCS asked for a court hearing regarding the child in 2011.
"They had a hearing and I think they were asking for court intervention for them to be permitted to take the child out of that environment or to get services and the court did not permit that to happen at that time," the prosecutor said.
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