15 Heartwrenching Cases Of Children Who Were Kept Captive

Across the globe, kids are returning home to their families after a long day at school, only to be denied a meal, beaten, or neglected. Some kids don’t even get the privilege of going to school, minimizing or sometimes even erasing their chance at a good education. They’re kept locked away from society, sometimes only being fed the bare minimum required for survival. They don’t know how it feels to have loving parents and a warm bed every night. It’s a sad reality that’s occurring everywhere. Sadly, however, not much is being done about it. Not everybody is aware of the awful conditions some children are forced to live in, and some who are won’t accept it as the truth. It’s a hard reality to face, but unfortunately it needs to be known.

These kids are treated no better, and sometimes even worse, than animals. It’s happening all over the world. Though it’s more common in third world countries, it’s surprising how often this occurs in developed countries, like America. Whether it’s lack of money and time, or just out of plain malice, it happens. And it happens all too frequently. Children who survive situations like that usually go on to need intensive therapy to socialize normally. Others will never be able to live a normal life. Sadly, the worst of them will never even experience love and happiness. The conditions in which some children were found are just downright appalling. It leads one to wonder how it could’ve gotten so bad. Whatever the reason, here are 15 cases where children were kept like animals.

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15 Sonja And John Kluth 

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Sonja and John Kluth, a married couple from Wisconsin, forced their three adopted children to live in cages, only feeding them pet food on occasion. Reports claimed that if the children asked for anything else to eat, they would be beaten with belt buckles and phone cords (among other things) sometimes until they passed out. Two boys who were both 15-years old, and a little girl of only 11 were repeatedly and purposefully harmed. The girl’s earring was allegedly ripped out, and the two boys often had their fingers smashed with mallets.

The couple was being paid $1,500 by the adoptive services of Wisconsin, but they apparently could not make ends meet. Their biological son Bill spoke out, saying that they were flat broke, and were not fit to take care of children. When word of the abuse got out, the farm where they were kept was investigated, and the children were taken into custody by Child Protection Services. Sadly, the couple did not receive any long jail sentences, and were instead released from jail with posted bail of $9,000 and $7,500.

14 Brandi And Joshua Weyant

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A six-year old boy and two girls, ages five and four were found in the home of Joshua and Brani Weyant. Authorities claimed that they were severely malnourished, and their skin was covered in urine, feces, animal hair and dirt. Supposedly, the three children were kept together in a locked, unheated bedroom that reeked of urine and human waste. The young couple also kept a multitude of pets, all of which appeared to be well fed and maintained. They fed their pets, but not their children. None of the kids were biological relatives of Brandi or Joshua, and it was discovered that their actual mother had asked them to take care of her kids while she went to rehab for heroin addiction.

When they were discovered, the children’s bones could easily be seen sticking out of their skin. None of them weighed over 28 pounds, and doctors said that they were within a week of death. Thankfully as of now, the children are expected to make a full physical recovery, though nothing can be said about their mental state.

13 Ibrahim Kandeel Masalmeh

Via: Google images

This Palestinian father kept his two mentally ill children locked away in a barn for almost 20 years. During that time, they were treated like horses. They weren’t provided any clothes to wear, they drank their water out of a dirty, hardened leather pail that presumably wasn’t properly cleaned or even rinsed out in the entire 20 years, and they were fed only food that animals would eat, such as spoiled leftovers, pig slop, and sometimes even hay or grain.

Ibrahim claimed that he did this because his children had mental problems, and he was ashamed. He wanted to conceal the children from the rest of the word in fear of being embarrassed. This is a little more understandable considering the culture of Palestine is very different from that of America, he even went so far as to say that he was keeping them safe. However, the treatment of the children is still considered cruel, and unacceptable, no matter the reason.

12 Edward And Krystal Everett

via: kwtv.images.worldnow.com

Edward and Krystal Everett believed their 6-year old son was possessed by a demon. As a result of this, they locked him in a bedroom with no furniture except an egg crate for him to sleep on. Authorities described this as one of the worst child abuse cases they had ever seen. The poor child was found covered in bruises and burns. He had no clothes on except underwear and was lying face down in the fetal position. His ribs were clearly visible and it was apparent that he had not been properly fed or taken care of. The young boy had allegedly been abused with an electric cattle prod, resulting in puncture wounds and severe burns.

Three other children were found in the couples’ home, though they showed no signs of abuse. The Everett couple claimed that the wounds left on the boy’s body were self inflicted, and that he was possessed by a demon. They stated that the boy often talked to himself, which is how they knew he was possessed. I’m sure anybody locked in a room all alone for days at a time would talk to themselves too. The young couple was charged with child abuse, and their three other children were taken into custody.

11 Joseph And Carmen

Via: assets.nydailynews.com

Six-year old Clayton was locked inside a tiny, dark bathroom closet by his father and stepmother, Joseph and Carmen. Often times, he was kept there for over 24 hours without a sufficient supply of oxygen. While inside, he was bound in chains and wire fencing. He was unable to lie down, or even sit. The child had to remain standing even while he slept. His chest and neck were covered in scars from the wire and chain cutting open his skin.

The six-year old was not allowed to go to the bathroom, and was forced to soil himself. His step mother punished him for the mess and rubbed his face in it like a dog. His own father would then urinate on him. This went on for months before authorities came to his rescue. It was estimated that he had been staying in the closet for three to six months.

10 Pamela Davis, And Brittany And Patrick Braddock

Via: assets.nydailynews.com

Two infants, ages one and two were kept locked up in dog kennels inside the home with their parents Brittany and Patrick Braddock, and their grandmother Pamela. The three were arrested on child abuse charges and the children were taken by the Department of Human Services. Both the 26-year old mother and 60-year old grandmother were released from prison on bond of $20,000, while the father was held on a $100,000 bond. The authorities initially went to the home to serve a narcotics warrant on Patrick.

The children’s mother claimed that the charges against her were completely insane. She stated that they exaggerated the conditions the children were found in, saying that they made it seem like they were kept in cages all the time. Perhaps they were simply using the dog kennels as some form of play pen, but there certainly isn’t enough room in one for a growing child. Thankfully, the children are now under the care of other family members.

9 Mum Kung

Via: i3.mirror.co.uk

Fang Chung lived most of his life normally, growing up and getting married. Unfortunately, his wife needed an operation due to a illness. Fang Chung agreed to go with her to the hospital, but once he saw her on the operating table, he believed she had died and suffered a mental break. His wife struggled to take care of him for six years, but after no improvement in his mental state, his parents took him back into their home -- and locked him in a cage.

His parents claim that he is locked in a cage for his own good, and for the good of others. They are afraid he will turn violent and harm people because he had already hurt them previously. They do not have enough money to pay for proper treatment for their son, so their only alternative was apparently locking him up. Though he had adequate food and water, the cage is only cleaned out once a week. They ask Fang if he wants to come out, and he will nod his head, but will make no move to do so.

8 Caging Condoned By Welfare Department

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A Malaysian girl by the name of Vivien went to the Rumah Kebajikan Kanak-kanak Cacat (a facility for physically and mentally handicapped people) to visit her handicapped aunt whose name remains private. She and her family visit the aunt very often, but this time Vivien decided to tour the facility alone, out of curiosity. Though her aunt and fellow patients are well taken care of, the same can not be said for the severely disabled and mentally ill children. While wandering around, Vivien peeked into a locked door and saw a horrifying scene. Several children were being kept in cages like dogs, with more than one per cage. They had no food, water, or bedding.

Vivien made a complaint to UNICEF about the condition in which the children were living, but unfortunately no actions were taken against the facility. She heard back from a woman who worked at the Rumah, enraged that word about the children had gone public. Apparently, there wasn’t enough money or volunteers to properly care for and watch after the kids, so they resorted to keeping them locked up. This had been going on since 2009, and the Welfare Department had been aware of the practice, allowing it to continue.

7 Sharen And Mike Gravelle

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Police found eleven children locked away in nine separate cages that were barely three feet tall. Most of the children had various disabilities like autism. The cages had no blankets or pillows, no access to water, and were set up to sound an alarm should the doors open from the inside. Each of the children, ages one, two, seven, eight, six, nine, and fourteen were all placed in the custody of the Department of Job and Family Services, and from there placed in four foster homes.

Sharen and Mike Gravelle denied they ever abused the children, but a few of the older ones claimed that they had been forced to sleep in the cramped cages for over three years. The cages were exactly 40” high by 40” deep, and some even had the doors blocked off (doors that already had alarm system) with heavy furniture such as couches and tables. Thankfully, the children appeared to be well-fed and not dehydrated.

6 Michael And Jennifer Thalmann

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After a young student was caught stealing food from another classmate, cases of abuse and confinement came to light. A Newington couple abused two of their three children by locking them away in dog cages, physically and verbally abusing them, and depriving them of food. The child who was caught stealing food had a talk with school principal James Marciano, which resulted in a call to the state Department of Children and Families.

The family moved to Pennsylvania and later to Florida after the alleged abuse came to light. The court investigated the case, and both children stated that the dog cages were a supposed form of discipline that ceased after the family moved. Michael and Jennifer were both spared time in prison behind bars with a posted bail of $250,000 each, but are to return to Newington to face the charges against them at a later date. The children have been removed from the home and the Thalmanns are forbidden from having contact with them.

5 Mickey Sparks And Patricia Laws


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A ten-year old autistic girl was found inside of a wooden cage that reeked of urine and human waste. While not visibly underfed, the child was reportedly severely underweight and suffering from mild dehydration. There was a mattress inside the cage that contained no bedding and was soaked in a mixture of urine and sweat. A neighbor had made a phone call of reported child abuse in the Tennessee home, leading to the investigation.

Mickey and Patricia were both charged with child endangerment, abuse, and neglect. Three other children lived in the couple’s home, but they showed no signs of abuse. The Sheriff’s office claimed that all four of the children were removed from the house and turned over to the Department of Child Services. Sparks and Laws were placed behind bars at the Washington County Detention Center with a bond of $50,000 each. All of the children are now in foster homes.

4 Lechaina Mental Hospital

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Portuguese psychology graduate Catarina Neves spent a summer volunteering and the Lechaina mental hospital, in the south of Greece, along with a few friends. While there, they documented how the children and even some mentally ill adults were kept in wooden cages that went from floor to ceiling and often painted bright colors. The nurses say they would like conditions for the patients to get better, but unfortunately they do not have enough funding to do so. The entire hospital only has six staff members to care for 65 patients.

Patients rarely get to leave their cages except to use the bathroom or take assisted showers. The young children frequently can’t wait long enough for their turn to use the restroom, and have to sit by their own waste until a nurse can attend to them. The cages came to be after a few patients had died from choking on small objects and consuming fabrics and bandages.

3 Parents Lock Kids In Cages

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The names of the parents have been withheld to protect the identity of the children. Two young children, a boy and a girl, suffered through frequent beatings from their father and stepmother. It’s reported that their fingers were smashed in doors, and they were tied to trees outside (sometimes for more than 24 hours at a time) as ‘punishment’. Occasionally, they were left tied upside down. It was also stated that the father sexually abused his own daughter.

The small girl’s head was smashed against the wall until she began bleeding, resulting in a mild concussion that was left untreated. The court stated that the children were gagged and bound together to be photographed while they were in distress. Items such as a bed slat and stock whip were used to beat the children. Multiple times, the stepmother left the two kids in an ice cold bath, running cold shower, or outside in the freezing rain as another form of punishment.

2 Riley Choate

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Riley Choate kept his 13-year old son Christian locked in a dog cage, before “accidentally” beating him to death and burying him in a shallow grave near the family's trailer in a trailer park. When he died, the teen boy weighed less than 60 pounds, and had reportedly spent the last three years of his life in a dog cage too small to stand or lie down in. The father had beat him on a regular basis and deprived him of adequate food and water.

Christian was originally kept locked inside his room, and then tied up to his bed. When he escaped, the family bought a dog cage from the neighbors and locked him in there. After his death, Riley and his wife Kimberly told their other children (who thankfully showed no signs of abuse) that Christian had run away. His body was discovered two years after his death after his older sister confessed to knowing what really happened to Christian. In court, Riley admitted that he knew he had been in the wrong, and that he “loved” his son. They buried him with a Bible. 

1 Jamie Curnell And Russell Terry

Via: cbsnews3.cbsistatic.com

Pleasantville, Ohio, was not so pleasant for one little girl. Four-year old Alyssa was kept in an animal cage by her parents, and allegedly tortured. Police responded to a call of domestic disturbance late one night, but what they found was much worse than expected. Inside the dirty home was a dirty, torn mattress surrounded by wire caging and locks. It had no sheets and no blankets. The couple later admitted to keeping their four-year old daughter locked up in the cage at night, supposedly because she “would get up at night.”

Jamie and Russell also had an eight-month old baby, and policed stated that the home was filthy enough to endanger the children living in it. While no evidence was found relating to harm caused to the infant, it was only a matter of time before they would’ve made the small child sleep in a cage as well. The couple both pled guilty to three counts of child endangering. Unfortunately, they did not spend a single day in jail because they claimed the cage was for her own safety due to her wandering around at night. Luckily for the children, they were placed in the care of family members.

Sources: ChicagoTribune.com, Courant.com, ABC.net.au, BBC.com, People.com, DailyMail.co.uk

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