Authorities have arrested and filed multiple charges against a man and a woman in Iowa for confining an 11-year-old inside a plastic-wrapped room.
According to the Marion County sheriff’s department, Rocky Lee Wooldridge and Jennifer Lee Wooldridge of Knoxville were charged with first-degree kidnapping, reported KCCI 8.
Rocky, 49, and Jennifer, 43, were identified as the child’s paternal grandparents. Rocky was first charged on March 8 after the Iowa Department of Human Services observed evidence of child abuse when the 11-year-old was treated at a hospital for thermal burns.
— Popular Crime (@popular_crime) May 13, 2019
The boy told police that he “hadn’t been outside since summer,” and evidence of abuse on his body included “thermal injury to both feet and deep bruising on the arm,” according to the news outlet. He also had difficulty walking and his body was shaking.
Upon reaching the scene, law enforcement found pull-ups and wet underwear inside the child’s room, and it was covered with plastic sheets everywhere. There was one blanket and one pillow inside.
One of the neighbors, Steve Dejoode told KCCI 8 that a girl from the house often spent time with his daughter.
“The dogs are there, but we’ve noticed here and there they’ll pull in and leave,” Dejoode said. “Ever since that went down, I don’t think they’ve been staying there.”
Boy says he hadn’t been allowed outside for months https://t.co/wrW8Y7sKSP
— Frances Driggers (@francey52) May 13, 2019
The couple adopted the boy and his sister in 2017 after their mother died in childbirth in 2012, according to the Des Moines Register.
They were granted full custody of the two children after winning a legal battle with their maternal grandparents.
During the investigation, authorities found multiple firearms in reach of children inside. Rocky is also facing charges for possessing multiple unsecured guns included loaded weapons, according to Daily Mail. He’s already a convicted felon.
“My wife was the first one that told me, and I’m kind of surprised,” Dejoode said. “They didn’t seem like that type of people, but they kind of kept to themselves.”
Rocky and Jennifer’s arraignment in the child abuse case is scheduled for June 6, and the trial for the firearms charge is scheduled for June 24, according to Fox 5.
Boy, 11, tells police he hadn’t been outside in MONTHS after they found his bedroom covered in plastic sheeting https://t.co/vhwlJLis5l
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) May 13, 2019
Child Abuse in the United States
An estimated, 700,000 children are abused in the country every year. Approximately 1,670 children died due to child abuse in the country in 2015, according to the National Children’s Alliance.
In the same year, children advocacy groups served 311,000 cases of child abuse around the nation, whereas 683,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect.
“Households in which participants suffer from alcoholism, substance abuse, or anger issues demonstrate higher occurrences of child abuse as compared to households without,” said Psychology Today.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month & throughout the year, we will be sharing some of the statistics associated with this epidemic. Please join us in our commitment to build a brighter future for children all over the nation. #ChildAbusePreventionMonth pic.twitter.com/x4JWQtIOXl
— Big Oak Ranch (@Big_Oak_Ranch) April 16, 2019
Child abuse is about actions that cause harm but it can also be about inactions that cause harm and that falls under neglect.
“Physical abuse involves non-accidental harming of a child by, for example, burning, beating, or breaking bones. Verbal abuse involves harming a child by, for example, belittling them or threatening physical or sexual acts. Emotional trauma can result from several forms of abuse,” said Psychology Today.