‘Challenged’ boy found malnourished, close to death in basement, police say

HELENA, Ala. (WIAT) — A 14-year-old boy is gravely ill at a local hospital after being deprived of food and medical attention and kept in isolation for an extended period of time, allegedly by his adoptive parents.

Helena police were alerted to the child abuse case early Sunday morning by Shelby County DHR who were called by a hospital after admitting a severely and chronically malnourished and dehydrated child suffering from acute respiratory distress, shock, hypothermia, hypothyroid disorder and close to death.

Chief Pete Folmar says the child remains gravely ill and will face a long, difficult recovery and uncertain prognosis. The boy’s adoptive parents, Cynthia and Richard Kelly, were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse Monday after an investigation began.

“You just struggle to wrap your head around it,” Folmar said. “Like most of the people here at the Helena police department, I’m a parent, and you just struggle to wrap your head around it.”

Folmar told CBS42 Monday night that the boy had been kept in the basement of the Kelly’s Helena home. Tuesday, he was asked if the victim was special needs–he replied the child is “challenged.” He described the boy as undersized when asked about his weight and age–he said he didn’t know his exact weight but that the teen boy appeared to weigh around 55 pounds.

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