Madison, WI – Wisconsin authorities are working to unravel the case of an unidentified 15-year-old girl who was seen ‘stumbling down the street’ barefoot and wearing only thin pajamas in the winter cold. She was also scraped and bleeding. A passerby, Mike Vega, noticing her purple feet in his rear view mirror, stopped to help.
“The girl started talking about how her stepmother had just thrown her down the stairs, she had escaped out a window and was looking for help,” said Vega. “You could see fear in her eyes. It was very disturbing.” Vega added.
Vega said that the 15-year old girl – who weighed just 70 pounds – was scared at first to be inside Vega’s car, but that she became more comfortable after he showed her photos of his three young sons and a Mary Poppins video on his cellphone.
It would turn out that the girl getting into Vega’s car would be the end of what authorities believe to be more than 4 years of isolation, torture, and sexual abuse at the hands of her family.
Through interviews with the girl, family, and neighbors – and with additional analysis of CPS reports – authorities have established that the girl had been forced to stay in a locked, unfinished basement of her father and stepmother’s home since around 2007. In addition to bars on the basement windows, her father and stepmother had reportedly set up an alarm on the door and placed cameras on the kitchen pantry in case she tried to steal food.
The teen said if she was caught eating without permission, the couple would make her throw out the food or vomit it back up. According to a police affidavit, because of the punishment and to avoid setting off the alarms upstairs, the girl often resorted to sneaking out a window that she could open to look for edible garbage or simply eating her own feces and drinking her urine. In other reported instances, her stepmother or father would make her eat her feces or drink her urine or rub them on her face as punishment.
The girl told detectives that her stepmother was responsible for most of her injuries, saying the woman didn’t want to marry her father because of her. The girl also said her stepmother demanded to be called “your majesty” or “master.” According to the criminal complaint, this stemmed from the fact that the stepmother had told her father that, as a condition of marriage, the father had to ‘give the girl to [the stepmother] so she could be the girl’s personal owner.’
The teen said her stepmother ‘homeschooled her.’ According to the affidavit, the workbook that was being used for this homeschooling was at the third-grade level.
In addition to the teenaged girl, it was reported that there were an older stepbrother and two younger siblings in the household. By reported accounts, they did not suffer the same treatment. The presence of the older boy certainly complicated matters, though…
According to the complaint, the girl’s stepbrother tried unsuccessfully to have intercourse with her once and he forced her to perform oral sex on him more than 10 times. The girl reported that she told her father and stepmother that the stepbrother was doing “sexual things” to her in 2006 when she was 10-years-old, but they accused her of lying. In March 2007, after telling a school couselor of the abuse, a Dane County CPS worker and a police detective met with her at the school. The girl reportedly did not provide them with details at that time. When the county worker met with her father and stepmother, they refused to allow her or the police to speak to the stepbrother. Shortly after, the girl would be removed from school.
At least two neighbors called social services to report potential abuse at the house. Next-door neighbor, Mark Stuntebeck, said he called CPS after he saw the girl taking out the garbage and then scavenging through it for food. He told local news reporters that he wasn’t aware of any follow up. Melissa Clark, who lives across the street, said her visiting mother noticed the girl and also called CPS. Clark said she similarly did not know if anything was done to follow up.
According to the Department of Children and Families, there had been 10 reports of suspected neglect, sexual abuse or physical, levied against the family since 2006 – three of which remain pending.
Dane County prosecutors have charged the girl’s father — Chad Chritton, 40 — and stepmother — Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 42 — with felonious child abuse and first-degree reckless endangerment and with misdemeanor child neglect. The girl’s stepbrother, Joshua Drabek, 18, has been charged with repeated sexual assault. Each of the three – pictured here – are being held on bonds ranging from $20,000 to $25,000. Her younger siblings are in CPS custody.
Police said that the girl is in protective custody and receiving much needed medical care. In her first week after getting into Mike Vega’s car, she has reportedly gained 17 pounds.
Up until now, civilized society hasn’t been of much help to this girl. Let’s try to straighten this shit out, shall we?
Tags: Chad Chritton, Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Joshua Drabek, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, Reckless Endangerment, Sexual Assault, Torture