ANDERSON, Ind. — A police report describes disturbing allegations of neglect in the case of a mentally handicapped teenage girl who was brought to an Indiana emergency room weighing less than 40 pounds.
The girl's grandfather, Steve J. Sells, 58, has been arrested and faces a Level 6 felony charge of neglect, but authorities say that other arrests and charges are likely, pending an investigation. Police believe the 15-year-old girl, who was hospitalized Monday afternoon after being found covered in feces and severely malnourished, had been kept in a room in Sells' home in the 3400 block of Forest Terrace since about 2011.
On Tuesday, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said the girl is still alive, but her condition is acutely life-threatening. She was brought to the emergency room at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital with protruding bones, according to a probable cause affidavit.
According to the affidavit, a search warrant was executed at the home, and the room where the girl was believed to have been kept was squalid. Police found a mattress, space heater, blankets, a bowl filled with oatmeal and a bucket in the room. There was blood found on the floor and feces "on everything in the room."
Sells allegedly admitted to detectives that he kept the girl locked in the room to protect himself and said the girl was very strong. Sells is listed on the affidavit as weighing 225 pounds. He said that the girl had tried to attack him with a knife. He also said that the girl hadn't received medical attention since January 2012, when her Medicaid expired.
Sells and the girl lived at the home with two adult women and a 4-year-old girl, according to Cummings.
The affidavit includes police interviews with the two women, who described incidents where Sells would keep the girl locked in the room day and night, often with inadequate heat, and an occasion when Sells picked the girl up by her hair and dragged her. The 4-year-old told detectives she'd seen the teenager stick her fingers out around the door, attempting to escape.
The mother of the 4-year-old declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday.
Molitor reports for the Anderson (Ind.) Herald Bulletin.