Society
Society

Parents Who Tortured, Starved Teen Charged In Her Death

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The parents of a Des Moines, Iowa, teen who died after she went into cardiac arrest from emaciation due to denial of critical care have been charged in her death.

Natalie Finn, 16, was tortured, deprived of food, clothing and health care, court documents state, according to The Des Moines Register.

Authorities charged her parents, 42-year-old Nicole Marie Finn and 45-year-old Joseph Michael Finn, on Dec. 8 for her Oct. 24 death.

The criminal complaint filed in Polk County alleges Nicole killed her daughter “intentionally, willfully, deliberately, with premeditation and malice aforethought.”

Nicole and Joseph allegedly secretly confined Natalie and her two siblings, a 14-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy, inside the family’s home, where they used “unreasonable force, torture or cruelty” to cause their children serious injury.

The couple did not provide the children with food, clothing, shelter, health care or supervision, causing them “substantial” physical, mental and emotional harm, the criminal complaints states. All three children have a mental or physical disability.

For Natalie, her parents' actions reportedly caused her untimely death. After she went into cardiac arrest and later died at a hospital, authorities opened an investigation into her Nicole and Joseph.

In the months before her death, Natalie had repeatedly asked neighbors for food and clothing, next-door neighbor Tiana Curtis told The Des Moines Register. She said the well-being of Natalie and her siblings was an “ongoing neighborhood concern.”

"I was so, so afraid that justice wouldn’t be done," neighbor Becca Gordon, whose 18-year-old son was a friend of Natalie’s, said. She ate breakfast at their home regularly for about a month in 2015.

Natalie attended school during the 2014-2015 school year, but was not enrolled this year, Elaine Watkins-Miller, a spokeswoman for West Des Moines Community Schools, said.

Gordon tried contacting Nicole to get permission for Natalie to participate in extracurricular activities, but never received a response.

"It was clear that aside from school, there was no social life outside of the home," Gordon said. "But [the school] is like a big family, and I think that's what it was like for Nat."

"Our hearts ache for the loss of such a sweet, beautiful young woman," Watkins-Miller said in a statement. "Those who knew her will remember her smile and her kindness."

Natalie’s death was initially ruled suspicious following an autopsy, but is now considered a homicide.

The charges against her parents include crimes against her siblings, too.

Nicole is charged with one count of first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, one count of child endangerment resulting in death, three counts of child endangerment causing serious injury and three counts of neglect of a dependent person.

Joseph is charged with three counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of child endangerment causing serious injury and three counts of neglect of a dependent person.

Nicole and Joseph, who divorced in 2011 and shared custody, are not allowed to have contact with their minor children.

Sources: The Des Moines Register (2) / Photo Credit: The Des Moines Register

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