Natalie Finn was found unresponsive in her adoptive parents’ Des Moines, Iowa, home in October of 2016. Although she was immediately transported to a local hospital, the 16-year-old girl was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Authorities later confirmed Natalie literally starved to death. New details, which were obtained from the West Des Moines Police Department, suggest the teen and her two siblings suffered years of abuse and neglect.
Joseph Michael Finn, 45, and Nicole Marie Finn, 42, are the adoptive parents of three children. Although the couple divorced, they are both facing criminal charges related to the death of Natalie Finn and the abuse and neglect of their surviving 15-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.
As reported by the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Department of Human Services received multiple complaints from neighbors and school officials who believed Nicole and Michael Finn were abusing and neglecting their children.
In 2016 in particular, the Department of Human Services received reports that Natalie arrived at school “dirty and hungry” on numerous occasions. They were also informed that the teen was visibly emaciated and often begged friends and neighbors for food.
According to reports, caseworkers visited the Finn home and interviewed the parents and all three children. However, despite the fact that the children “feared Nicole Finn,” caseworkers concluded there was not enough evidence of abuse or neglect to remove the children from her care. They further concluded that Natalie “was making her own choice not to eat,” because there was “ample food” available in the home.
Two months later, 16-year-old Natalie Finn was found unresponsive “laying on the floor… in her own waste.”
According to Nicole Finn, Natalie woke up at approximately 9:30 a.m. on October 24. At some point during the day, her 14-year-old sister attempted to feed her “a peanut butter smoothie.”
As reported by USA Today, the sister told authorities that Natalie “often refused to eat.” In the days prior to her death, Natalie’s siblings attempted to feed her on several occasions. Unfortunately, Natalie grew weaker until she was no longer able to sit unsupported. The teen also complained that she was unusually cold and asked for blankets and a space heater.
At approximately 7 p.m. that evening, one of Natalie’s siblings “found [her] on her back with vomit coming out of her mouth.” Nicole said she attempted to perform CPR prior to calling 911.
When authorities arrived on the scene, they were horrified to find the teen “wearing an adult diaper and lying on the… floor” of the bedroom she shared with her siblings. West Des Moines police Detective Chris Morgan said it appeared that Natalie Finn was lying “in her own waste for some time.”
Although the room was free from “beds and furniture,” Morgan noted that the floor was covered in blankets — which were “heavily soaked” in urine. Authorities also confirmed “many animals roamed freely, including well over a dozen kittens and cats” and that the house smelled strongly of animal and human waste.
Natalie Finn was rushed to the hospital, but it was simply too late. The Polk County medical examiner later determined the teen suffered cardiac arrest due to starvation.
Authorities concluded Nicole’s death was directly related to abuse and neglect at the hands of her parents. Nicole Finn was subsequently arrested and charged with child endangerment resulting in death, kidnapping, and murder. As he did not live in the home at the time of his daughter’s death, Joseph Finn was charged with abandonment, kidnapping, and neglect causing serious injury.
Nicole and Joseph are also facing charges in relation to the abuse of their surviving children.
In her statement to police, Nicole Finn said all three of her adopted children were troubled and that Natalie, in particular, suffered from mental health issues.
— KCCI News (@KCCINews) March 15, 2017
Nicole and Joe Finn both admit removing the furniture and carpeting from the bedroom. However, they insist it was necessary because the teens often defecated and urinated on the floor “out of defiance and spite.” Joe also admitted nailing the bedroom window shut to prevent the teens from “sneaking out to beg for food at a convenience store near the home.”
— infowe (@infowe) March 16, 2017
Joe Finn insists the teens were happier when they visited his new home because he allowed them “to use the restroom and eat food unsupervised,” which was not allowed at their mother’s house.
Joe and Nicole are both incarcerated at the Polk County Jail awaiting trial for the death of Natalie Finn. Authorities confirmed the trial is scheduled for October.
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