KC couple charged with abusing 8-year-old niece
Friday, July 20, 2012
By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City couple was charged Friday with assault and child endangerment after their malnourished 8-year-old niece was found locked in a bedroom, a case that bears a striking resemblance to another less than two miles away.
In charging Jeffrey A. Kraft, 34, and Michele Kraft, 28, authorities alleged the couple’s niece weighed just 42 pounds when was freed July 5 from a room that smelled of urine and trash. A detective wrote in the probable cause statement that the girl had been scrubbing the floor with bleach because she had to urinate in the room. She had lost six pounds since she was 5 and in kindergarten, the last time she attended school.
In a nearby apartment complex last month, police freed a 10-year-old girl who weighed just 32 pounds from a closet that was barricaded shut and also reeked of urine. That girl’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend face criminal charges.
No attorney is listed for either of the Krafts in online court records. Jackson County prosecutors have requested $100,000 bond for the Krafts, who were the guardians of the 8-year-old girl and her 5-year-old sister.
The girls began living with their aunt and uncle about four years ago, and have been taken into protective custody along with the Kraft’s 5-month-old daughter, the Jackson County prosecutor’s office said in a news release.
After her rescue, the 8-year-old was examined at a hospital and found to have bruises and other marks. She said her aunt and uncle “had not been treating her right.” She said her aunt pushed her into things, hits her on the back of the head and spanks her. She said her uncle also spanked her and put her in the corner, the probable cause statement said.
The 5-year-old, who was allowed to eat in the kitchen, said her sister was locked in the room almost all the time and she couldn’t talk to her. The younger girl said she didn’t try to unlock the door to her sister’s room because she was afraid her aunt and uncle would catch her, the probable cause statement said.
The uncle told authorities the girl had “serious problems” and “chooses to stay in her room.” He later said that the girl had significant behavioral problems and keeping her in her room had been the only option that worked, according to the probable cause statement.
Neighbors said they hadn’t seen or heard about either sibling since last summer.
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