Abused Teen Lived in Closet
Posted by shadmia on September 30, 2009
LaRhonda Marie McCall, 37, and Steve Vern Hamilton, 38, are in jail on $400,000 bail each. They each face 20 counts of child abuse and child neglect. McCall’s 14-year-old son was so badly abused over a 4-year period that he had scars and burns all over his malnourished body.
The 14-year-old was finally able to escape from a bedroom closet, where he had been lock up, by prying open the door which had been blocked by a stepladder and a bed. With the help of his 18-year-old sister, he fled the apartment, wearing over-sized shorts held up with a belt. He walked barefoot for nearly a mile before coming across a National Guard armory.
“He ran up to us and asked where the nearest police station was,” said Officer Paul Clark, one of two security officers on duty that day. “I asked him why, and he pulled up his shirt to show us his scars. He said he had been abused for four years and nine months, and wanted to tell police so that he would never have to go back.”
The other security officer, Leslie Sanders, called police while officer Clark gave the starving boy an apple and a soda. When the police arrived the boy was given more food before being taken to hospital
“He had scars on his neck from being choked with an extension cord, and he was covered in bruises and stab wounds that were still healing,” Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Knight said, adding that the victim is now in the custody of the Department of Human Services. “This boy had been abused in the extreme. He was very happy that he was in the presence of police and that he was finally safe.”
The boy told police that scars on his stomach and torso were from where alcohol had been poured on him and set on fire. Other scars were from being tied up, hit with an extension cord and choked, the boy said.
The boy was unable to give the police his address but 13 hours and many phone calls later, they were able to locate his mother. They arrived at the apartment and arrested both the boy’s mother, LaRhonda McCall, and her boyfriend Steve Hamilton on charges of child abuse and neglect.
There were six other children, siblings of the 14-year-old, in the apartment at the time. They were all taken into the custody of Human Services but showed no signs of physical abuse, injury or neglect. The 18-year-old sister who helped the boy escape was not held.
Sociologist Howard Kurtz said it is a rare for only one child to be singled out like that. He said the 14-year-old victim will need intensive counseling and therapy after experiencing the severe abuse.
“It is pretty unusual, but there are cases where one child is chosen to be the scapegoat,” Kurtz said.
The boy said his trouble began four years ago when the family moved from New Jersey to the Oklahoma City area. He hadn’t attended school since then, and spent most of his time locked in a closet.
The manager of the apartment complex, at 3500 Northeast Military Circle in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where the abuse was taking place said McCall had only lived in the apartments for about a month and neighbors were unaware of any abuse.
Karen Gilleland, manager of the Hillcrest Apartments in south Oklahoma City, said that after McCall was evicted for unpaid bills in August, a hole filled with human waste was found in the wall of a closet in their apartment unit.