Indiana toddler found locked inside box, 9 charged

WTVD logo
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Grandfather speaks out after toddler found in box
A 3-year-old girl was found locked inside a wooden box for extended periods of time, authorities said.

NORTH JUDSON, Ind. -- Authorities in northern Indiana charged three people with neglect after a 3-year-old girl was found locked inside a wooden box for extended periods of time. Six other people, including four teenagers, were charged with failure to report child abuse.

WSBT-TV reports officers with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant at a home in North Judson Wednesday and found the girl locked inside a plywood box in the living room.

Forty-two-year-old Donna Short, 25-year-old Christopher Short and 18-year-old Patricia Meeks face neglect charges.

"I'm devastated by it, you know, if they didn't want them. I've tried to tell them all, I'll take them in a minute," the child's grandfather, Frank Jackson, said.

Jackson has been working to gain custody of his two grandchildren since his daughter died two years ago. The 3-year-old girl found in the box has an older brother who is 7 years old.

"I just don't understand why they could do this to the kids, knowing there's a good home for them to go to," Jackson said.

"Oh, it just breaks your heart. And even the other kid in the house, you just look at that and think, 'My God, how does this happen?'" Pulaski County Sheriff Jeffery Richwine said.

Richwine said that while not as severe, cases of child abuse are all too common.

"We see that on a regular basis, to be quite honest, I think. I think you see kids put back into houses that they should never be in there," he said. "If you can lock a child in a box for long periods of time, who knows what he's capable of?"

Both believe the problem is with Child Protective Services' policy.

"I've heard several DCS people say that their plan is to put families back together. Somewhere you got to say that's probably not the best environment for these kids whose parents can't and won't get their acts together," Richwine said.

In the meantime, the sheriff has a short-term plan so that innocent children end up in loving homes, instead of boxes.

"We've gotten with the prosecutor, and what we've decided we're going to do is start arresting people for neglect," he said.

The girl and five juveniles were released to the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.