9-Year-Old Boy Discovered By Police Locked in Dog Cage Outside in Below Freezing Temperatures

Three individuals are facing 19 different indictments in North Carolina after police say they found a young boy in a dog cage, where he’d allegedly been living outdoors for months.

On November 10, a grand jury passed down the indictments after testimony from detectives from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.

The nine-year-old boy was discovered October 19 after an anonymous 911 call by a neighbor who’d reported seeing him in the cage overnight when temperatures dropped below freezing, per WBTW News 13.

The caller also claimed that her husband had taken the boy food at some point “in the past,” suggesting that this was either an ongoing or recurring situation.

Sheriff’s deputies found the boy in a t-shirt, jeans and with no shoes. There was frost on the ground. Police said that he was shivering and unable to speak until he’d been warmed up, per WBTV.

A man arrived on the scene while deputies were there and told them the child had been in the cage at around 10:30 p.m. the previous night. He said he’d brought him a coat and snacks, per warrants.

The boy eventually told EMS that he didn’t have a room “because he lived outside,” and had been since April, per search warrants.

According to news reports, deputies say they saw his stepmother, Sarah Starr, while rescuing the boy. She is said to have been at the back door holding a baby; she reportedly walked away and turned off the lights.

Deputies forced entry into the home and ultimately detained her. She insisted that only her aunt, Shelley Barnes, knew the combination. Barnes was the homeowner.

According to the warrants, the stepmother and the boy’s father, Jonathan Starr, knew the boy was being held outside. She said that they were “upset about it,” but reiterated that only her aunt knew the combination, per court docs.

Police found a four-year-old child underneath her bed. Two additional children, seven and eight years old, were at school. All five children were taken into custody by the Department of Social Services and are reported in good health.

The stepmother has been charged with seven counts of felony negligent child abuse inflicting serious mental/emotional injury, misdemeanor child abuse and three counts of felony child abuse inflicting serious physical injury.

The boy’s father faces two counts of felony negligent child abuse inflicting serious mental/emotional injury and felony child abuse inflicting serious physical injury.

Barnes is looking at two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, misdemeanor child abuse, assault on a child younger than 12, and two counts of felony negligent child abuse inflicting serious mental/emotional injury.

Bonds for Jonathan and Sarah Starr have been increased from $100,000 to $1 million secured each. Barnes’ bond remains at $300,000.

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