Three North Carolina family members have been jailed after authorities discovered a 9-year-old boy in a dog cage in their backyard last month.
Sarah Lynette Starr, 30, Jonathan Scott Starr, 32, and Shelley Lucille Barnes, 56, have been sentenced to a Davidson County jail on multiple counts of child abuse and neglect after a juvenile was in their care saved by deputies who allegedly found him in a padlocked doghouse outside the family’s home in Lexington, North Carolina.
The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip from an unidentified caller on Oct. 19, alleging that a boy aged 9 or 10 had been killed overnight at a property on Block 100 of Cress Road in Lexington a dog cage – about 20 miles south of Winston-Salem.
Upon arriving at the property, deputies found a 9-year-old shivering in a padlocked kennel and unable to speak.
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“The deputies forced entry into the kennel and took the child to emergency responders who arrived at the scene to assist,” the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “Due to pressing circumstances, MPs then forced entry into the residence.”
As soon as they entered the home, authorities located CBS affiliate WBTV Jonathan Starr and Sarah Starr, who have been identified as the child’s biological father and stepmother, respectively reported. A search warrant was later executed at the home, eventually leading to the couple’s arrest.
Sarah Starr and Jonathan Starr are now facing multiple separate counts of negligence, child abuse and false imprisonment allegations.
Barnes, the child’s great-aunt, has been identified as the homeowner where the alleged abuse took place. She faces felony and misdemeanor charges of child molestation, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a criminal and maintaining a controlled substances apartment, county authorities said.
The 9-year-old was taken to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem. He was released the same day after medical personnel examined him.
Two other children were found unharmed at the property. Two other children in the couple’s care were at school when authorities entered the family home. All five have since been placed in the care of Davidson County Social Services.
The Starrs are each held on a $1 million bond and Barnes on a $300,000 bond, PEOPLE.come reported. They were due to appear in court on Thursday.
Further information was not readily available as of Friday afternoon. The child abuse investigation remains open and active. Oxygen. com has reached out to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office for comment.