3 accused of locking 2-year-old twin boys in feces-covered bedroom and starving them
05/10/2023 11:41 am PDT
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (TCD) -- Deputies arrested a 21-year-old mother, her 24-year-old husband, and her 22-year-old boyfriend this week for allegedly locking 2-year-old twin boys in a bedroom for days at a time and inadequately feeding them.
In a press conference Monday, May 8, Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger said deputies responded to a report of an unresponsive 2-year-old boy at an apartment in the Ripley area. The boy was transported to a local hospital before being transferred to Charleston Area Medical Center Women and Children’s Hospital, then airlifted to Ruby Memorial.
Mellinger said medical staff determined the boy was suffering from renal failure and was in a state of severe malnutrition and dehydration. The sheriff called it a "dire" situation.
The Sheriff’s Office learned Lylee Gillenwater, her boyfriend Brian Casto, and her husband Michael Gillenwater locked the victim and his twin brother in a bedroom with a padlock for as many as six weeks at a time. The three suspects would allegedly medicate the children to get them to sleep so they wouldn’t have to provide parental care.
According to Mellinger, the boys would often wear nothing but a diaper and were fed pieces of ground beef and Cheerios under the door. The neglect reportedly reached such a level that one of the twins lost consciousness.
Officials noticed the room was entirely covered in human feces, which made it nearly impossible to walk around, WCHS-TV reports.
Mellinger said the victim still has a lot of "hurdles to clear medically." The other twin is reportedly in stable condition, and an additional female child in the apartment was safely removed.
Lylee Gillenwater, Michael Gillenwater, and Casto were arrested and booked into the West Virginia Department of Corrections on $150,000 bail each.
Michael Gillenwater was charged with two counts of child neglect with serious risk of injury or death and child neglect resulting in injury, while Lylee Gillenwater was charged with two counts of child neglect with resulting in injury. Casto reportedly faces one count of child abuse resulting in injury and one count of child abuse with risk of injury.
According to WCHS, Child Protective Services took custody of the children.
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