West Virginia mother Kristal Richard locked her sons, ages two and five, inside filthy dog kennel style boxes, according to Kanawha County law enforcement investigators. Police officers found the two young boys nude and covered in their own urine and feces inside the cages.
Kristal Richard, 33, was arrested and removed from her East River View Drive home in the town of Shrewsbury on Monday after Kanawha County police officers were called to the residence on a welfare check. The request for a welfare check came via an anonymous tip. The two little boys were found inside boxes made of wire mesh, plywood, and a tarp.
The box the 2-year-old boy was found sitting inside was about 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The 5-year-old boy was allegedly locked inside a slightly taller box by the West Virginia mom. The cages did not have either any type of bed for the little boys to sleep on or bathroom facilities.
The walls of the inside of the boxes were covered with both urine and feces, according to a report by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Several toys and bits of food were also found in the cramped and locked living space where Kristal Richard allegedly kept her two young sons.
“Yippee,” the 5-year-old boy said when a West Virginia State Trooper freed him from the wood, wire, and tarp-covered cage.
When Richard was questioned by law enforcement investigators, she reportedly admitted to locking her two boys inside the homemade boxes. She said the children were kept inside the cages for the bulk of the day because she was not fit to care for her sons, West Virginia Illustrated reports.
The two little boys were removed from the home by West Virginia Child Protective Services staffers. They have now been released into the custody of family members.
West Virginia police officers believe being locked in the dog kennel style cages will have both a lasting physical and emotional impact on the two young boys. The state troopers who found the boys described their living conditions as “awful.”
Kristal Richard has been charged with two counts of child neglect. She was arrested and transported to the South Central Regional Jail and is being held on a $10,000 cash-only bond.
According to a report by the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN), child abuse cases are on the rise in the state. A statewide data collection report for 2014 through 2015 revealed 3,294 West Virginia potential child abuse victims were served by advocacy centers for children, the Times WV reports.
That figure represents a nearly 15 percent increase from children who received child abuse advocacy services the previous year. Over the course of the seven years prior to the study, the number of child abuse or child neglect reported cases increased 82.39 percent.
West Virginia Child Advocacy Network Executive Director Emily Chittenden-Laird said one of the reasons for the increase in child abuse advocacy services being utilized is the addition of new centers being created or new counties in the state being offered services.
Chittenden-Laird also admitted it is not uncommon to see an increase in child abuse claims even in areas where services already existed. Seventy percent of the children seen by staffers at the advocacy centers raised not only child abuse but sexual abuse allegations as well.
“[Child abuse] is still an issue that is not unique to our state, but [exists] nationwide,” the advocacy network director added. “As for true prevention, there’s a power difference, and it’s hard for kids to say no to someone that’s in authority or trust over them.”
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin helped to create the Every Student Succeeds Act, which garnered bipartisan support. The nationwide child sexual abuse prevention act is focused on protecting children from predators working at their schools.
“Every Student Succeeds Act is a ban on schools helping a known child molester obtain a job at another school or prey upon other children,” Senator Manchin said. “I am also pushing for funding for CACs, [child advocacy centers] which support victims of child abuse.”
Why do you think reports of child abuse are on the rise in not just West Virginia, but many other states as well?
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