Report: 15-year-old girl weighing 40 pounds found locked in room with bucket, no heat

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ANDERSON, Ind. -- A disturbing picture of child abuse and neglect is unfolding at a home in Madison County, Indiana, after a 15-year-old girl was found weighing 40 pounds and living in a locked room surrounded by her own feces.

According to FOX59, the 15-year-old girl was kept locked away with inadequate food and heat.

Her grandfather, Steve Sells, and grandmother were arrested and both face charges of criminal confinement.

The girl's grandparents were given care of the girl in 2009, FOX59 reports. The girl, who police say is mentally disabled, was spotted during a child care checkup on the home.

During the checkup, investigators found an upstairs room with a lock at the top. Inside they found a mattress, space heater, blankets and a bowl of oatmeal with a bucket.

Police noticed blood on the floor and  “feces on everything in the room,” court documents said.

“It’s very disturbing, we wouldn’t accept treatment of an animal this way let alone a human being,” said Detective Joel Sandefur with the Anderson Police Department.

A 4-year-old child who lives in the home told police that the 15-year-old girl was locked in the room and would sometimes “stick her fingers out around the door trying to get out.”

Another child said Sells would lock the door “during the day and nights” and that the girl was left in the room with inadequate heat. That child described Sells “picking up (the girl) by her hair and dragging her.”

Police noted that while the girl weighs less than 40 pounds,  Sells weighs somewhere between 200 and 225.

For more on this horrifying story, click here.


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  • christiancelt

    I had a student with a very similar story back in the 80s… but fortunately Diana was rescued by her grandmother who discovered Diana’s situation when her daughter’s and daughter’s family moved back to California. Diana was only 7 when grandmother got custody. Parents were crack users.. and Diana did have some developmental disabilities and was classified as profoundly retarded. I worked outside of school hours with grandmother and we utilized several motor remediation programs and Diana made remarkable progress and gained 4 years of academic and motoric skills in one year. Situations like this CAN be remedied but only with intensive and well planned programs and sadly, this sort of interventions are not ‘popular’ today. As a native Hoosier now living in the west, if possible I’d love to work with this child.,… and as a legal source for Special Education cases, I so want to see these people locked away, their property seized and used to provide for her care.

    • Anita Das

      I hope you get a chance to work with her. If nothing else, she deserves to know that her life is important and she is worthy of being loved and cherished. I am amazed she survived and that speaks to her spirit and her will to live!!!! I think she will need time to develop trust towards humans. Perhaps giving her a cat or dog would help along that. This poor girl was star Ed on so many level. Yet, she survived. I will be praying for her.

  • Anita Das

    I think these grandparents need 30+ yrs incarceration and their assets should be sold and a trust fund set up in her name. With all that is available to help caregivers, there is no justification of this. Why should taxpayers money be wasted on a trial? These people have no defense. I say they should be simply given a one way pass to hell.

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