MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - An anonymous tip led officers in Middletown, Ohio to a 12-year-old girl who police say was locked in a basement for more than two weeks.
The girl was covered in scars and her ribs were showing through her skin, the police report said. A deadbolt sealed the unfinished basement, where she had a bed without sheets and a light bulb on a string.
"If she wanted to use restroom, she had to knock on a door and get one of her parents' attention, and they would open the door and let her go to the restroom," Middletown Police Lt. Walter Reeve told WKRC. The 12-year-old was found on July 3.
"They had been feeding her cereal in the morning. She said she hadn't had anything to drink except the milk that was in the cereal bowl for several days," Reeve said.
The girl told officers her stepmother, Joanna Blackston, would put duct tape over her eyes and mouth, and bind her hands behind her back. She also said she had not brushed her teeth since her parents took away her toothbrush about six months ago as punishment.
An attorney for the girl's 15-year-old sister asked the Butler County Children Services to investigate the house in February.
"It was appropriate enough and there was nothing they could do about it basically, in a nutshell, the bottom line was they weren't willing to file a complaint. That's where I had to do something," attorney Randy Turner said. The 12-year-old's older sister was arrested for domestic violence earlier this year and also said she was put in the basement as punishment.
"In the detention center, when I talked with her, most kids if they are locked up, they want to get out almost no matter what their situation was at home. She was gleeful when I told her she was going to be locked up for a few more weeks," Turner said.
Blackston is out on bond, while all six of the children who lived in the home have been placed in foster case. Butler County Children Services told WKRC that some staff members were placed on leave while an investigation is under way.