On Friday police in Jerseyville, Ill., were dispatched to the Jersey Community Hospital in response to a 6-year-old boy's death. Police say the child starved to death last week after his father and stepmother spent two years withholding food from him as a punishment.
The boy, barred by Micheal Roberts and Georgena Roberts from eating regular meals since December 2015, died Friday weighing just 17 pounds, according to court documents. An autopsy indicated that the cause of death was “failure to thrive due to ‘extreme malnourishment,’ ” police said. The couple, both 42-years-old, are charged with first-degree murder, as well as a felony count of child endangerment. A Jersey County judge, on Monday, ordered the couple held on $500,000 bail each.
If they are found guilty, they could face up to 60 years in prison and pay up to $25,000 in restitution, according to the court documents.
They are also charged with a misdemeanour count of child endangerment in relation to another malnourished child, a 7-year-old. In addition to the 6-year-old that died, the couple had five other children living with them at their Jerseyville home in southern Illinois, about 50 miles north of St. Louis.
The five children have been taken into custody by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, according to the police statement. The conditions of the surviving children are unclear.