Child found locked in basement of home

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Normal Child found locked in basement of home

Post by Praying For Faith on Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:58 pm

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Child found locked in basement of home
Updated: 5:18 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Posted: 3:24 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2012

There is a video at the above link.

By Rick McCrabb

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio —

MIDDLETOWN — A father and stepmother are accused of locking their 12-year-old daughter in a Middletown basement for nearly a month, tying her up and feeding her only cereal.

The couple have been charged with kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and child endangering, a third-degree felony, according to police.

Middletown police said an anonymous complaint led Butler County Children Services this month to investigate Shawn Blackston, 40, and Joanna Blackston, 36, who live at 1606 Philadelphia Ave. The complaint was that the couple were allegedly abusing one of their six children.

After Children Services staff members saw the “deplorable living conditions,” Middletown police were notified on July 3, said Lt. Scott Reeve.

Reeve said the children were removed from the home that day and placed in foster care and charges were filed against Shawn and Joanna Blackston on July 6 when they were found and arrested in a Sharonville motel.

Reeve said the girl, a sixth-grader in the Middletown City Schools District, had been allegedly locked in the basement since June 18, about a month after her last day of school. There were several locks on the outside of the door that led to the basement, Reeve said.

He said there was only a mattress in the unfinished basement, and the glass block windows were covered by sheets or wood, eliminating light from coming inside. One light bulb hung from the ceiling.

There was no bathroom in the basement, so the girl was let out of the basement when she needed to use the rest room, Reeve said.

Her only communication with her siblings was through floor boards and under the basement door, Reeve said.

Meanwhile, he said, the other children had air conditioners in their second-floor windows and video game systems in their bedrooms. When interviewed, the father and stepmother said locking the 12-year-old in the basement was a form of punishment and a way of protecting the other children.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Reeve said.

The girl was malnourished and dirty when found by officers, he said. She had scars on her back, arms and legs from what she said was previous abuse. She said her stepmother put duct tape over her eyes and mouth and bound her wrists behind her back. She hadn’t brushed her teeth in six months since her parents took the toothbrush away as punishment, she told investigators.

Attorney Randy Turner, guardian ad litem for a 15-year-old sister, said there were a number of red flags that something was wrong at the Blackston home. He said his ward was punished once by being made to watch the other children open Christmas presents when she had not been given any, and she was also punished by being placed in the basement.

The 15-year-old had faced a domestic violence charge in a separate incident and was found delinquent, the juvenile-court equivalent to being found guilty. When the juvenile court ruled the girl could not go home, Turner said she was unusually elated.

“She was thrilled to death,” Turner said.

In February, Turner asked the court to order Butler County Children Services to investigate the home. He said the agency didn’t find anything wrong with the home.
“They either didn’t look at the basement or thought it was OK,” Turner said.

He said the three stepchildren were treated differently.

“This isn’t the first time I had to file a complaint like this,” Turner said about children services.

Jeff Centers, executive director of BCCS, said the agency is cooperating with Middletown police, but couldn’t comment further about the agency’s investigation.

Centers said there were staff members placed on administrative leave this week, but would not say if it was related to this case. He said the case is pending an investigation into whether “proper policies and procedures were followed.” He refused to say who the staff members were and how many were on leave.

All of their six children who lived in the Philadelphia home — ages 16, 14, 12, 9, 3 and 2 — are in foster care.

Joanna Blackston has been released on a $25,000 cash or property bond. Her attorney, Ched Hagen Peck of Hamilton, said she denies all of the allegations. Shawn Blackston, whose bail is also $25,000, remains in the city jail Thursday night. The attorney for Shawn Blackston, Daniel R. Allnutt of Franklin, could not be reached for comment.

Reeve said investigators were in touch with the Butler County Prosecutor’s office about the case. Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he was “fully aware” of the case but “it’s not something I can comment on at this time.”

Both Blackston’s are scheduled for preliminary hearings at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Middletown Municipal Court.
They didn’t return voice messages left Thursday on their cell phone.

On Thursday afternoon, no one answered the door at 1606 Philadelphia. The home is located off Central Avenue in a residential and business downtown neighborhood.

The glass window on the front door was painted, and several cans of cat food littered the front and side yards. There was a trailer in the side yard and no one answered that door either.
There is an empty lot to the south of the home and the two homes to the north are vacant.

One downtown businessman said he usually saw the children standing in the front yard every morning waiting for the school bus.
Marion Sherman, 84, lives around the corner at 17 Garfield St. When told about the allegations against his neighbors, he said he had heard of similar abuse claims on TV, but never “this close to home.”

He called the allegations “just awful,” and if true, the couple should be “locked up for a really long time.”

Joanna Blackston has lived in Middletown since August 2008, and before that lived in Circleville and Hamilton, and a few residences in New York.

Shawn Blackston has lived in Middletown since November 2008, and before that he lived at locations in Pickaway and Fairfield counties .

They have only committed traffic-related offenses, according to a background check. However, Joanna Blackston, whose maiden name is Green, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in August 1998 in Cincinnati. She also had three civil judgments in Butler County against her for a collective amount of $15,211.

Shawn Blackston also had three civil judgments filed against him — one in Pickaway County Municipal Court and two in Fairfield County Municipal Court — for a collective $3,150.

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Normal Re: Child found locked in basement of home

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:20 am

That was a very good video at the above link.

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By Rick McCrabb and Michael D. Pitman
Staff Writers
Updated 8:37 PM Thursday, July 12, 2012

MIDDLETOWN — A father and stepmother are accused of locking their 12-year-old daughter in a Middletown basement for nearly a month, tying her up and feeding her only cereal.

The couple have been charged with kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and child endangering, a third-degree felony, according to police.

Middletown police said an anonymous complaint led Butler County Children Services this month to investigate Shawn Blackston, 40, and Joanna Blackston, 36, who live at 1606 Philadelphia Ave. The complaint was that the couple were allegedly abusing one of their six children.
After Children Services staff members saw the “deplorable living conditions,” Middletown police were notified on July 3, said Lt. Scott Reeve.
Reeve said the children were removed fro
m the home that day and placed in foster care and charges were filed against Shawn and Joanna Blackston on July 6 when they were found and arrested in a Sharonville motel.

Reeve said the girl, a sixth-grader in the Middletown City Schools District, had been allegedly locked in the basement since June 18, about a month after her last day of school. There were several locks on the outside of the door that led to the basement, Reeve said.
He said there was only a mattress in the unfinished basement, and the glass block windows were covered by sheets or wood, eliminating light from coming inside. One light bulb hung from the ceiling.

There was no bathroom in the basement, so the girl was let out of the basement when she needed to use the rest room, Reeve said.

Her only communication with her siblings was through floor boards and under the basement door, Reeve said.
Meanwhile, he said, the other children had air conditioners in their second-floor windows and video game systems in their bedrooms. When interviewed, the father and stepmother said locking the 12-year-old in the basement was a form of punishment and a way of protecting the other children.


“That doesn’t make sense,” Reeve said.

The girl was malnourished and dirty when found by officers, he said. She had scars on her back, arms and legs from what she said was previous abuse. She said her stepmother put duct tape over her eyes and mouth and bound her wrists behind her back. She hadn’t brushed her teeth in six months since her parents took the toothbrush away as punishment, she told investigators.

Attorney Randy Turner, guardian ad litem for a 15-year-old sister, said there were a number of red flags that something was wrong at the Blackston home. He said his ward was punished once by being made to watch the other children open Christmas presents when she had not been given any, and she was also punished by being placed in the basement.

The 15-year-old had faced a domestic violence charge in a separate incident and was found delinquent, the juvenile-court equivalent to being found guilty. When the juvenile court ruled the girl could not go home, Turner said she was unusually elated.

“She was thrilled to death,” Turner said.

In February, Turner asked the court to order Butler County Children Services to investigate the home. He said the agency didn’t find anything wrong with the home.

“They either didn’t look at the basement or thought it was OK,” Turner said.

He said the three stepchildren were treated differently.
“This isn’t the first time I had to file a complaint like this,” Turner said about children services.

Jeff Centers, executive director of BCCS, said the agency is cooperating with Middletown police, but couldn’t comment further about the agency’s investigation.
Centers said there were staff members placed on administrative leave this week, but would not say if it was related to this case. He said the case is pending an investigation into whether “proper policies and procedures were followed.” He refused to say who the staff members were and how many were on leave.
All of their six children who lived in the Philadelphia home — ages 16, 14, 12, 9, 3 and 2 — are in foster care.
Joanna Blackston has been released on a $25,000 cash or property bond. Her attorney, Ched Hagen Peck of Hamilton, said she denies all of the allegations. Shawn Blackston, whose bail is also $25,000, remains in the city jail Thursday night. The attorney for Shawn Blackston, Daniel R. Allnutt of Franklin, could not be reached for comment.

Reeve said investigators were in touch with the Butler County Prosecutor’s office about the case. Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he was “fully aware” of the case but “it’s not something I can comment on at this time.”
Both Blackston’s are scheduled for preliminary hearings at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Middletown Municipal Court.

They didn’t return voice messages left Thursday on their cell phone.

On Thursday afternoon, no one answered the door at 1606 Philadelphia. The home is located off Central Avenue in a residential and business downtown neighborhood.

The glass window on the front door was painted, and several cans of cat food littered the front and side yards. There was a trailer in the side yard and no one answered that door either.

There is an empty lot to the south of the home and the two homes to the north are vacant.

One downtown businessman said he usually saw the children standing in the front yard every morning waiting for the school bus.

Marion Sherman, 84, lives around the corner at 17 Garfield St. When told about the allegations against his neighbors, he said he had heard of similar abuse claims on TV, but never “this close to home.”

He called the allegations “just awful,” and if true, the couple should be “locked up for a really long time.”

Joanna Blackston has lived in Middletown since August 2008, and before that lived in Circleville and Hamilton, and a few residences in New York.

Shawn Blackston has lived in Middletown since November 2008, and before that he lived at locations in Pickaway and Fairfield counties .

They have only committed traffic-related offenses, according to a background check. However, Joanna Blackston, whose maiden name is Green, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in August 1998 in Cincinnati. She also had three civil judgments in Butler County against her for a collective amount of $15,211.

Shawn Blackston also had three civil judgments filed against him — one in Pickaway County Municipal Court and two in Fairfield County Municipal Court — for a collective $3,150.

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Normal 12-year-old girl locked in basement testifies

Post by raine1953 on Tue May 21, 2013 2:33 am

HAMILTON — A 12-year-old Middletown girl testified Tuesday how she was locked in her parents’ basement isolated from most of her family, and when she misbehaved, was fed peanut butter sandwiches, stood in the corner for hours, slapped and spanked and held under a cold shower.
When the girl, whom The Journal is not identifying, walked into Butler County Common Pleas Court, she looked to her left at the four TV cameras and eight media members sitting in the jury box, and at her parents, who were sitting with their attorneys at two tables. A few times during her testimony, she made eye contact with her father and stepmother, and stumbled over her answers in front of visiting Judge Matthew Crehan.
Her parents, Shawn, 40, and Joanna Blackston, 37, were charged with child endangering for allegedly locking the girl — one of their eight children from a blended family — in the basement of their Philadelphia Avenue home from June 18 to July 3, the day Butler County Children Services and Middletown police were called to investigate allegations of abuse.
The Blackstons were arrested on July 6 at a Sharonville motel.
They had faced felony kidnapping and unlawful restraint charges, but those were dismissed by the Butler County grand jury. They’re out on $25,000 bonds. In September, they plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charges of child endangering. The second of the three-day trial begins at 9 a.m. today.
The attorney for Shawn Blackston, Tim Upton, and for Joanna Blackston, Ched Peck, described a different scene in the home on Philadelphia, just off Central Avenue. They said the 12-year-old wouldn’t obey her parents, destroyed her clothes, bedding and toys in the basement, and once threatened to kill her 2- and 3-year-old siblings.
A case worker from children services asked that the attorneys, Josh Muennich, assistant prosecutor for Butler County, and the Blackstons representatives, stand at the podium and direct their questions to the girl. Judge Crehan pulled up a chair and sat close to the girl so he could hear her answers.
Throughout most of her testimony, she cuddled a teddy bear and rocked in her chair. She said she had to ask to go to the bathroom that was located upstairs and her parents gave her only two or three pieces of toilet paper. When she was “bad,” she was forced to eat peanut butter sandwiches, while her siblings ate home-cooked meals or fast-food carry-out, she said.
A few times, she admitted, she and her 15-year-old sister, who lived in the basement, broke out a window and snuck out of the house. They found food in the neighbor’s trash can and on the ground and returned to the basement. The girl said on four occasions she brought the same stray cat into the basement, which her parents forbade, and they punished her.
Earlier, Alisa Muncy, an intake worker for eight years with children services, said the girl’s hair was cut “military-style” when she was removed from the home on July 3. Peck confirmed with the girl that her head was shaved because she got lice while in school, and her stepmother bought her hats to cover her head.
During cross examination, Upton asked the girl if she ever took extra clothes outside and changed before school without her parents’ permission. She said her parents thought some of her clothes were “inappropriate.”
The girl was the fourth and final person who testified, following Muncy and two of the girl’s older sisters.
In opening statements, assistant prosecutor Kim Schneider showed the judge and the visitors a picture of the girl just after she was removed from the custody of her father and stepmother. The picture showed a dirty, 5-foot-tall pale girl with sunken eyes, Schneider said. She said she weighed 74 pounds.
She asked the judge to “hold them (the Blackstons) responsible.”
Since being removed from the home, the girl has gained 32 pounds, what Schneider called “astounding.”
The basement where the girl stayed for nearly a month had no heat, air conditioning or fan, and had a covered glass block window, which Muncy said was in “stark contrast” to the upstairs bedrooms of the other children that had bookshelves, air conditioning, video games and television sets.
Peck said the girl was locked in the basement because she allegedly stole things from her brothers and sisters. He also said the girl used a pair of scissors to cut up her bedding and clothes.
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Normal Couple who locked up 12-year-old daughter in filthy basement, starved her and duct-taped her eyes lose custody of four of their seven children

Post by raine1953 on Tue May 21, 2013 2:36 am

11 December 2012

An Ohio couple found guilty of keeping their 12-year-old daughter locked in an unfinished basement for weeks and denying her food as punishment for misbehaving lost custody of four of their seven children.
On Monday, a judge awarded legal custody of Shawn and Joanna Blackston’s children, ages two, four, 10 and 14, to their maternal grandparents, Kemal and Mildred Green.
‘The only way I’d go along with this is if you are aware and firmly commit to me that these children are going to be in your legal custody and not in some way place them back with their parents while the court’s looking the other way,’ visiting Judge Tom Lipps told the Greens.

Upon reviewing a home study and interviewing the Greens, the judge deemed Joanna Blackston’s parents best suited for caring for the four kids, even though Mildred Green was previously denied temporary custody because she didn’t believe that the 12-year-old was being abused, Cincinnati.com reported.
As part of the arrangement, the Blackstons will be allowed to visit their children, but not overnight. Butler County Children Services caseworkers will monitor the four kids at the Greens’ home for at least six months, at which time the case will be revisited.
Shawn Blackston, 40, and his 37-year-old wife, Joanna, have a total of eight children in a blended family, WHIOTV reported.
Seven of their kids were removed from their Middletown home July 3 after children services caseworkers received a tip that the 12-year-old was being locked in the basement, starved, ostracized and treated differently than the couple’s other children.

Three of the Blackstons’ other children, including the 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl who made similar allegations of abuse, are currently in foster care and are scheduled for a custody hearing on January 30.

In November, the parents were convicted misdemeanor child endangering charges. They could face up to six months in prison when they are sentenced December 18. They had faced up to 10 yeas in prison on the kidnapping charges which had been dropped, according to Cincinnati.com.

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Normal Middletown couple gets 3 years probation

Post by raine1953 on Tue May 21, 2013 2:45 am

A Middletown couple accused of locking their 12-year-old daughter in the basement have been sentenced to three years probation.
Shawn, 40, and Joanna Blackston, 27, were found guilty last month of misdemeanor child endangering. They faced up to six months each in prison.
Visiting Judge Matthew Crehan also ordered the Blackstons to attend parenting classes, pay support orders and court costs. He also said the pair must obtain full-time employment.
The couple declined comment after the sentencing.
Assistant Prosecutor Josh Muennich said Tuesday’s sentencing was “a fair decision.”
Four children — ages 2, 4, 10 and 14 — were placed in legal custody of their grandparents Dec. 10 by a visiting judge for Butler County Juvenile Court.
A custody hearing for three of Shawn Blackston’s children, including the 12-year-old and a 15-year-old who made similar allegations of abuse after she was removed from the home after a domestic violence incident, is scheduled for Jan. 30.
The case came to light when an anonymous complaint reported a girl was locked in the basement. Butler County Children Services investigated on July 3 and based on what was found called the Middletown police. Six of the couple’s eight children in their blended family were living at the home in July were removed and placed into foster care.
The case brought an outcry from Butler County Commissioners and prompted several departmental changes in Children Services, including caseworker suspensions and former Children Services director Jeff Centers lost his job.
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Normal Re: Child found locked in basement of home

Post by Wrapitup on Tue May 21, 2013 8:41 am

That's IT??? 3 years probation?

I read the above and it's horrible that poor child had to get on the stand. OMG!

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