LEXINGTON, NC (WGHP) – Three people have been arrested after being accused of locking a child in a doghouse overnight, according to the Davidson County, North Carolina sheriff.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for 36 years. This is the first time I’ve seen something of this significance, to be honest,” Sheriff Richie Simmons said during a news conference Thursday.
At 6:50am, an anonymous citizen called and reported that a child had been locked in a dog kennel at a house on Cress Road overnight. according to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. The deputies were dispatched and arrived at the scene just before 7:30 am
Upon arrival, deputies found a 9-year-old child locked in a doghouse, secured with a combination lock, outside the home.
Simmons said it was about 28 degrees outside when they found the child, who had been locked in the outside kennel all night. Investigators later found animals in the home, but there were no animals on the dog property with the child.
“There were a few clothes, just fragments, there was some food in there, but not enough to keep this kid warm,” Simmons said.
MPs forced entry and the child was “rushed” to rescue workers who arrived on the scene to help the MPs. Then they entered the house and found a woman and two other children who were also examined by the emergency services but showed no visible injuries.
A search warrant was obtained and Jonathan Starr, the child’s father, was arrested along with the woman at the home, identified as Sarah Starr. MPs later arrested another woman, Shelley Barnes.
The two women are said to be the child’s stepmother and aunt.
The 9-year-old was taken to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital and discharged the same day. Social services have taken custody of five children living in the home, including a toddler, a 4-year-old child, two primary school-age children and the 9-year-old child who was at the center of the case.
While the other children were reportedly in “good health,” the sheriff’s office believes it was not a one-off abuse.
Sarah and Jonathan Starr are charged with the felony child molestation with aggravated assault, misdemeanor child molestation and imprisonment.
Shelley Lucille Barnes is charged with the felony of child molestation causing serious physical injury, misdemeanor child molestation, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm by a criminal. The warrants show Barnes was convicted of identity theft in Gaston County in 2004.
All three made their first appearance in court on Thursday morning. Her case continued through November 10.
Barnes received a $300,000 secured bond. The Starrs both received $100,000 bonds.
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