Sweet Jesus, be a lifer named Bertha who has a soft spot for babies and a daily fist for child abusers, particularly the Kansas City, Mo., mother who kept her 10-year-old daughter locked in a closet, where she was forced to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom for years.
Jacole Prince’s daughter weighed just 32 pounds—a third of what an average 10-year-old weighs—and was suffering from “multiple healing skin injuries and failure to thrive” when she was rescued on Friday, based on a tip to a state child abuse hotline. Police and state child welfare workers, overtaken by the stench of urine in the second floor apartment, found her in a closet that had been tied off with rope and barricaded with a crib.
The child told police the closet was her room, that she hadn’t been let out for two days and that her mother regularly punched her on the back because she “messes herself.” She also said she didn’t eat everyday and that while her sisters were allowed to play outside, she could play behind the couch only.
Police arrested Prince—I refuse to call her that baby’s mother—and her boyfriend later Friday night at the boyfriend’s house. The mother allegedly admitted she locked the child up, in part, because she knew she’d get in trouble if people saw how malnourished her 10-year-old was. She was charged with assault in the first degree, child abuse and endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree—all felonies. Her two younger children, ages 2 and 8, were taken into protective custody. The boyfriend denies he knew the girl was locked in the closet.
My God, stories like these—of monsters who abuse their children—make my heart ache. How anyone could lock a child—much less her own child—away and force her to sleep and eat in her own urine and feces, deny her fresh air and food and, above all else, the love and tender touch of a mother, is absolutely beyond me. I promise you, I thank God Prince’s two other children are physically okay (though I’m not sure how children could mentally bear to watch their mother do that to another child), and I pray those three little girls find their way to a family who will give them what they deserve: a true mother’s love. And I hope to hell Prince gets what’s coming to her.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.