Nine people have been arrested after police discovered a 3-year-old girl who was kept locked in a wooden box for extended periods of time.
Donna Short, 42, Christopher Short, 25, and Patricia Meeks, 18, have been charged with neglect of a dependent after the horrifying discovery, according to WJW. Six others, including five teenagers, have been charged with failure to report child abuse. Police have not released information on the condition of the young girl, who has been released to the custody of the Department of Child Services in Pulaski County, Indiana.
After reports of child abuse, police officers searched the home where the girl lived on Dec. 14 and found the small plywood box, which police said was sometimes locked from the outside to keep her from getting out. The box contained a mat, dirty bed sheets, and dead bugs, Daily Mail reports.
Sheriff Jeffrey Richwine said that it was the worst case of child abuse he had ever seen.
"Never seen anything like this," Richwine told WNDU. "It's one of those deals, you go there and think, 'hopefully this is not true.' ... Nobody's going to have a small girl in a box, that's just not going to happen. And you go there, when they say it, you just don't believe it, you're thinking, 'my god, who would do this?'"
Richwine said that he feared that the 3-year-old could end up back with the family members who kept her locked in the wooden box.
Frank Jackson, the young girl's grandfather, said that he was horrified at the conditions his granddaughter had been living in.
"I've seen people treat their animals better. It's like a nightmare and I wish I'd wake up," said Jackson.
Jackson said that after his daughter's death, Christopher would barely allow him to see his grandchildren.
"What kind of health issues are my grandkids going to have ... in the future because of this? It could affect them for life. I pray not," added Jackson, who said that he would love and care for his grandchildren "in a flat minute."
Richwine stressed that it was important that the child not end up back with the same family members who had reportedly abused her.
"This is definitely a problem, that somehow we've got to get this figured out where we're not putting kids back in these same messes and then letting it start all over again," he said.