More charges in case of Mo. girl found in closet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Prosecutors in Missouri have charged the boyfriend in the case of a woman accused of abuse after police found her 10-year-old daughter locked in a closet and weighing 32 pounds.

Marcus R. Benson was charged Wednesday with two counts of child endangerment. Online court records in Jackson County don't list a lawyer for Benson, whose bond was set at $100,000.

Police found the child June 22 while responding to a call to a 24-hour child abuse hotline. Investigators said the child was home alone, locked inside a closet amid her own waste and weighing 32 pounds — less than half the average weight for her age.

The 10-year-old girl was hospitalized after police found her, but it was unclear late Wednesday if she remained in the hospital.

Hospital personnel who saw the child June 22 told police the 10-year-old wears a size 2T T-shirt, and that she had several skin injuries and was diagnosed with "failure to thrive."

The mother was out with her two younger daughters, ages 2 and 8, when police found the child. The woman's two younger children have been placed in protective custody.

The mother has pleaded innocent to charges of assault, child abuse and child endangerment. The Associated Press is not naming the mother to protect the child's identity.

A probable cause statement filed when the mother was arrested said Benson, who stayed with the girl's mother regularly, told police he didn't know the girl had been forced into the closet often without regular access to food. Police released Benson then, but the prosecutor's office said at the time that their investigation was ongoing.

The mother told police she didn't let the girl leave the house because the child is malnourished and she would "get in trouble if someone saw her," according to the probable cause statement.

It's unclear how much time the child spent in the closet. In the probable cause statement, she told police that her mother put her in the closet "a lot."

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