A 15-year-old Indiana girl weighed less than 40 pounds when she was taken to the hospital Monday and police reportedly called her case one of the “worst cases of neglect” they’ve ever seen.
The girl was taken to an Indiana hospital Monday. Police said she was so severely malnourished that “her bones were protruding more than her flesh,” according to an affidavit. There were also “feces on her feet.” She was listed in critical condition.
"The best way I can explain her physical condition would be a Holocaust victim," Anderson Police Det. Joel Sandefur told NBC affiliate WTHR.
The girls’ guardian, 58-year-old Steve Sells, was arrested Monday and faces a preliminary charge of child neglect.
Officers who checked the home where the girl lived, in Anderson, northeast of Indianapolis, said they found an upstairs room with clasp lock at the top of the door. Inside was a mattress, a space heater, blankets a bucket and a bowl of oatmeal. Police also found blood.
Police said a 4-year-old child in the home told officers the girl was locked in the room and “would stick her fingers out around the door trying to get out,” according to the affidavit.
Sells, who weighs between 200 and 225 pounds, told officer he locked his daughter in there to protect himself because she was strong and threatened him with a knife. He told officials the girl has a chromosome disorder that keeps her from gaining weight.
"With a 15-year-old girl weighing less than 40 pounds, that's not a very plausible explanation. That's something we're not buying as a police department," said Sandefur.
Sells said the girl fell and her condition grew worse over the last few days.
Sells’ wife, 54-year-old Joetta Sue Sells, was also being questioned in the case. Prosecutors expect formal charges to be filed against Sells by Friday. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.