Two homeschooling parents in Georgia face myriad charges after their 10-year-old child was found emaciated, wandering along the street in search of food, and begging never to return to their grasp or residence, authorities in the Peach State said on Tuesday.
“This child was, simply put, being starved to death, and it is tragic,” Spalding County District Attorney Marie Broder said during a press conference. “I truly believe that if he had not gotten out of that home, this would be a very different case.”
The boy was being treated for malnutrition and a very low heart rate at a hospital, Griffin Police Department Investigator Jodi Spears said. When officers found the child on Friday, he was “very thin” with discolored skin. Neighbors who first saw the boy walking down Westminster Circle took him in and called the police.
“At the time he was taken to the hospital, he only weighed 36 pounds,” Spears said.
A typical, healthy weight for a 10-year-old in the United States would be markedly higher, according to the CDC.
Tyler Schindley and Krista Schindley each stand accused of attempted homicide in the second degree and attempted malice murder. They also face charges of cruelty to children in the first degree, second degree, and third degree, battery, simple battery, and false imprisonment, Spears said on Tuesday.
According to warrants in the case obtained by Atlanta-based NBC affiliate WXIA, the couple caused their son “cruel and excessive physical and mental pain” when they “intentionally withheld food from the juvenile for an extended period of time.”
But the alleged starvation regime wasn’t the only abuse the boy suffered, those court documents allege.
The Schindleys are also accused of causing their son “dental injury and disfiguration” and withholding medical attention.
Additionally, the warrants allege the boy’s parents “locked the juvenile child inside his bedroom, leaving the child alone in the residence, for extended periods and on multiple occasions, with no access to lights, food, clothing or adult interaction and/or assistance.”
And inside his torture cell-like bedroom, the Schindleys’ warrants allege, the boy lacked access to “hot or warm running water, [an] outside view, toilet paper, electronic communication, human interaction, adult supervision or access to [an] exit.”
The child abuse is alleged to have occurred during at least three years spanning May 12, 2020, and May 12, 2023.
Authorities have said it is unclear how the child escaped. Broder said he was on his way to Kroger when he was found.
The investigation is ongoing.
There were several additional children in the home, authorities said. They have since been removed and placed in the custody of the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services. The children were all being homeschooled, according to the GPD.
There is no indication that the other children in the house were being starved or abused, authorities said.
The boy’s father voluntarily came into the local police department and spoke with investigators after his son was found, Spears said. The boy’s mother was arrested after that following an interview.
Details about the motivation for the alleged abuse are not currently clear. Authorities declined to go into specifics on that issue and other details about life in the Schindley home due to the state of the investigation.
The DA noted, however, that none of the other children have been subject to “forensic” interviews yet – and that the victim himself has yet to be formally interviewed.
“As a mother, I can’t comprehend it,” Broder said at the press conference. “But as a human being, it breaks your heart.”
The couple made their first court appearance on Monday, the DA said. A bond hearing will likely occur in the coming weeks.