ANDERSON, Ind. (Feb. 27, 2015) - Records reveal state officials were warned over and over for years about the dangerous well-being of a girl with a mental disability in Anderson. In December, the 15-year-old girl ended up being rushed to the hospital, weighing less than 40 pounds. The girl's grandparents, Steve and Joetta Sells and aunt Crystal Sells were arrested and charged with neglect and battery among other charges.
"You’ve got sick people in the world. Unfortunately, stuff like this does happens but it shouldn't," explains John White, a neighbor.
Our news gathering partners at the IndyStar obtained records from the Department of Child Services showing someone alerted officials in 2010. The source told DCS the girl had a big bruise, looked malnourished, wasn't going to school. DCS investigated. The Sell's ended up taking their granddaughter to the doctor and to see a dietitian. DCS closed the case.
Not even a year later, October of 2011, records show another person made a report to DCS. The person told officials the girl was kept in a locked bedroom for days and she wasn't allowed to use the bathroom. The report described the girl as being "literally skin and bones." A case worker looked into the claim and talked with the family. This case was closed about a month later.
Both cases cited "lack of evidence."
Three years later is when the teen was unconscious, "foaming at the mouth," and airlifted to the hospital.
"That’s their job is to protect and make sure people are being taken care of their kids," explains Jama Newman.
When searching the home, investigators found a room with a lock at the top of the door. In the room was a mattress, a space heater, a bowl with oatmeal and a bucket. There was blood on the floor and feces everywhere.
"Anger. That’s the only word for it, anger. It shouldn't have happened," says White.
The girl is still in the hospital.
DCS wouldn't comment directly on this case but did tell us any case that involves a death or a near death, like this case, goes through an internal investigation.