Grandfather, girlfriend accused of locking 9-year-old boy in 'filthy' room that smelled of urine
05/03/2023 11:33 am PDT
AVON PARK, Fla. (TCD) -- A 54-year-old grandfather and his 34-year-old live-in girlfriend face child abuse charges after allegedly keeping a 9-year-old boy in a filthy room built out of plywood.
According to a news release from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, on April 14, Jack Young’s 9-year-old grandson ran away from home, and a search for the boy ensued with the help of deputies, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and their helicopter. The child was eventually located under a car in his neighbor’s yard, and he was taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families.
The Sheriff’s Office said officials searched the boy’s home on State Road 17, where they noticed his room was "filthy and had an 'overwhelming' smell of urine." The room was reportedly built out of plywood with holes "large enough to allow insects and rodents to enter."
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the bed had a "egg crate-style piece of thin foam with no pillows or blankets, and there were no toys or personal items of any kind in the room."
The door to the room was reportedly a piece of plywood that was "impossible for the boy to move when it was blocking the door."
A detective said the room did not even compare to the worst prison cells he had had seen. Inside the living room of the home, officials reportedly found dog kennels that were cleaner than the boy’s room.
During an interview, the boy reportedly told investigators that he was "often confined to his room –– with the piece of plywood screwed shut –– for periods of time that were so long he was forced to soil himself." According to the Sheriff’s Office, the child said he could only shower about once a week, and he would often shout at the security camera in his room to be let out with no success.
The child also reportedly said he endured physical abuse at the hands of his grandfather and legal guardian, Jack Young, and he was denied food as a form of punishment.
The Sheriff’s Office said two other children inside the home were taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families, and they "confirmed the boy’s statements about being locked into his room and physically abused."
The Sheriff’s Office arrested Young and his girlfriend, Ashlee Marshall, and they were each charged with one count of aggravated child abuse. Their bonds were set at $50,000.
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