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Father & Stepmom Accused Of Locking 9-Year-Old Boy In Dog Cage In Below-Freezing Temperatures

Photo: Facebook / Davidson County Sheriff's Office
Jonathan Starr, Sarah Starr

North Carolina parents have been arrested after allegedly locking their 9-year-old son in a dog kennel outside in the cold.

The victim was found in below-freezing temperatures at around 7 am on October 19.

Police were called after a witness in the North Carolina neighborhood saw the child in a cage outside.

According to WBTV, The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office responded after a concerned neighbor called to report a child locked in a cage outside Wednesday morning.

Police found the child in the padlocked cage and were able to free him before taking him to a nearby hospital.

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After breaking into the padlocked kennel, the boy was found in a T-shirt and jeans but no shoes.

The child's father, Jonathan Starr, and stepmother Sarah Starr have been charged with felony child abuse, misdemeanor child abuse and false imprisonment.

Sarah Starr's aunt, Shelley Barnes, was also arrested due to the property where the child was found being under her name. She is a convicted felon, though her criminal history has not been disclosed.

Barnes was charged with felony child abuse, misdemeanor child abuse, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a felon and maintaining a dwelling place for controlled substances.

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Two other children were found inside the home and were found to have no obvious injuries.

A warrant states that while deputies were removing the victim, they saw his stepmother holding a baby and watching them through a door.

"(She) looked right at (the deputy) before turning the lights off and walking out of sight," the affidavit reads.

The children have been taken from the home by protective services.

The 9-year-old was released from the hospital the same day he was admitted and all three children were taken in by Davidson County Social Services.

At a press conference, Sheriff Richie Simmons described the horrific crime scene in more detail.

The child was left with some food and clothing, but “not enough to sustain warmth for this child,” Simmons said. 

Sheriffs believe this wasn’t the first time one of the children found at the home was forced to spend at night inside the kennel. However, police declined to disclose further details on the history of alleged abuse in the Starr home as the investigation continues.

“This is, we believe, what not to be an isolated state of offense. It’s been going on for a span of time."

“I’ve been in law enforcement 36 years. This is the first time I’ve seen something quite this significant. To be honest with you,” an unidentified officer added.

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Victoria Soliz is a writer with YourTango who covers news and entertainment content. Her work explores pop culture trends, film and TV, and celebrity news