CHAMBER OF HORROR:
AUTHORITIES SAY GIRL
STARVED AND ABUSED IN CARNATION HOME
October 14, 2008
(CARNATION, WA) -- None of the neighbors who lived near the small house in a cul-de-sac between Duvall and Carnation knew the home was a chamber of horrors for a 14-year old girl who authorities say was held in a concentration camp like environment, starved and abused for an extended period of time by her stepmother. The girl’s biological father who lived at the home in Carnation did not intervene in the abuse according to authorities.
The home in Carnation where authorities allege a girl was starved and abused
After a neighbor called Child Protective Services to report screaming from the house the night before, a sheriff’s deputy responded to the home near the north end of Lake Marcel on August 13th and was stunned by what he found.
King County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart said the lead detective on the case, who has been with the special-assault unit for sixteen years, reported he had “never seen a case of abuse this bad. The young girl was concentration camp thin."
The 14-year old girl was 4 foot 7, weighed just 48 pounds and had rotted teeth from the extended period of food and water deprivation. Deputies said the girl more closely resembled a child of seven or eight years of age and doctors believe the girl stopped gaining weight around the age of nine.
Detectives believe it is unlikely the girl had been to see a doctor in the past six years based upon documents detectives said they found in the house during a search.
The girl told authorities she was starved by her stepmother who gave her little more to eat than toast and a half a Dixie cup of water a day. Desperate to get enough fluid to stay alive the girl reportedly told detectives she would suck condensation from windows in the home with a straw or once in a while sneak a drink from a nearby toilet until she was caught. After that, she said, she was forced to sleep on the floor in her stepmother’s bedroom with a heavy dresser blocking the door so she could not escape.
For the better part of each day, she told authorities, she was locked in her room behind double deadbolts. The floor in her bedroom and her clothes were found sprinkled with rodent droppings. What little food she was given she ate in pain because her teeth were rotting out.
The girl told authorities she did have a toothbrush, but it was old and dirty and her stepmother, who stood by to watch her brush to make sure the girl did not drink any water, often did not want to wait for the girl to finish brushing so she often went without brushing her teeth. The girl told authorities it was the same situation when she was allowed to shower every two or three weeks.
As a result of the investigation King County prosecutors yesterday filed felony mistreatment charges against the stepmother Rebecca Long, 44, and the girl's father 43-year old Jon Pomeroy. The charges allege the two isolated and starved the 14-year-old girl.
Long and Pomeroy were originally arrested Friday October 10th when prosecutors asked a judge the two be held on $400,000 and $150,000 bail, respectively. Monday evening the pair was booked into jail then released on $20,000 bail each after King County District Court Judge Janet Garrow ruled the two did not pose a flight risk or were a threat to the community.
Authorities found the girl's 12-year-old brother and the two family dogs appeared to be in good health. There was evidence, they say, the dogs had been in for veterinary care and the boy had been to a see doctor in the past few years but it did not appear the girl had been seen by a physician since about 2002.
When officers found the girl she was taken to Children's Medical Center where she spent two weeks in recovery and underwent surgery to remove six of her teeth and have crowns put on the others. Doctors said malnutrition and the apparent failure of her saliva glands destroyed her teeth. Failure of saliva glands is the body's response to severe dehydration.
The girl has been in foster care the past two months where she reportedly has gained 20 pounds, is attending school and is making friends.
Records show both of the children were removed from the home by Child Protective Services three years ago in March of 2005. CPS agents reportedly investigated a complaint from the girl's schoolteacher after the child had told of harsh treatment at home including being locked in her room and deprived of food.
Investigators found the girl thin and confirmed her allegations, according to a CPS spokesman. However for some reason the children were allowed to stay in the home, the mother was to receive counseling and the CPS case on the girl was closed.
The two children had been enrolled in Carnation Elementary School in 2001 but the parents pulled them out to be home schooled in 2004. They never returned to regular public school, which may explain why teachers, other classmates or other parents did not notice the girl’s severe condition and alert authorities sooner.
Police described Long is a stay-at-home mother and Pomeroy as a software engineer who was employed by Estorian Inc. in Bellevue.
Stepmother and biological father charged in case