MERCER, Pa. (AP/CNN) — The mother and maternal grandparents of an 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy who police say nearly starved to death have been ordered to stand trial on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
District Judge Brian Arthur was so upset by pictures and reports that the boy was 25 pounds in June that on Thursday he revoked the defendants’ bond and ordered them jailed unless they each post $100,000.
The judge’s decision was met with applause by dozens of courtroom spectactors, including friends, family members and strangers, The Daily Mail reports.
Attorneys for the boy’s mother, 28-year-old Mary C. Rader, and grandparents, 59-year-old Dennis Beighley and 48-year-old Deana Beighly, suggested the boy had a problem with growth hormones. But county caseworkers and doctors indicated it appeared he was purposely kept from eating and nearly starved.
The boy, then 7, was removed from his Greenville home in June when a neighbor noticed his “skeletal” appearance.
“The child was starved,” Dr. Jennifer Wolford of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Child Advocacy Center was quoted as saying in a criminal complaint. She described the boy as “the worst case of medical neglect that I have ever seen in my seven years as a pediatrician.”
The unidentified boy lived with his mother and grandparents and three siblings — two sisters, ages 4 and 11, and a 9-year-old brother, the paper reported.
The two girls appeared healthy, the criminal complaint said. The brother was underweight though not as severely as the victim.
According the complaint, Rader was home-schooling the victim. The only time he was allowed outside was to be on the back porch, where he sometimes fed on bugs. The boy was only given small portions of tuna fish and eggs.
The victim was often beaten with a belt, sometimes for sneaking bread and peanut butter without permission, the complaint said. He also was punished with ice-cold showers.
The children have been placed in the care of child welfare authorities.