MIDDLETOWN, OH – I’m always hyping that people should not let D’D skew their worldview as we only post the worst of the worst and are, admittedly, fear-mongers of the highest order. But Jesus Christ, why does it always seem that whenever we feature abusive parents, they always look like villains in a horror movie?
We just posted an update on Diana and Samuel Franklin, the couple accused of making their adoptive daughter live in a chicken coop while wearing a shock collar, and now we have Shawn and Joanna Blackston, both accused of making their 12-year-old daughter live in a cage in the basement. Both couples look creepy as hell, but if I saw the Blackstons on the street, I’d chase them away with a baseball bat and a crucifix.
Police were alerted to the Blackstons after an anonymous person called them to report the possible abuse of one of their six children. When children services staff members made a surprise visit to the home and inquired about the 12-year-old girl, Shawn led them into the basement after unlocking several locks to the basement door. Here’s what the workers found.
For anyone unable to see the image, it’s of an unfinished basement with the windows covered and a lone lightbulb. Also inside is a cage with a mattress inside that the girl has been forced to live in since June 18, the day after her last day of school. The teen was malnourished, dirty and covered in scars that she says are from past abuse. She claimed she had not brushed her teeth in six months, her toothbrush having been taken from her. She also says she has only been fed cereal and accused Joanna, her step-mother, of putting duct tape over her eyes and mouth and binding her wrists behind her back.
The couple were arrested and charged with kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and child endangering, a third-degree felony. They deny the charges and say the girl was locked in the basement as punishment and for the safety of the other children.
Police say while the girl was forced to live in the basement the other kids, ages 16, 14, 9, 3 and 2, enjoyed air conditioned rooms–some of which were equipped with video game systems. She said that she was only able to talk to her siblings through the bottom of the basement door or through the floorboards, and was only allowed out of the basement to use the restroom since there was no bathroom in the basement.
Attorney Randy Turner, guardian for the 12-year-old’s 15-year-old sister, says the three step-children were treated differently and he had asked Butler County Children Services to check out the house in February after the 15-year-old became elated over being told she could not go home after being found guilty of domestic violence in juvenile court. He said the eldest sibling described being forced to watch her siblings open Christmas presents while she had been given none, and being locked in the basement as punishment herself.
He says that BCCS did not find anything wrong in the home. “They either didn’t look at the basement or thought it was OK,” Turner said.
It’s also interesting to note that some of Butler County Children Services’s staff were placed on administrative leave this week. The executive director of BCCS would not say if this had anything to do with this particular case, but did say they are investigating if “proper policies and procedures were followed.”
Both Shawn and Joanna have since bonded out of jail. All six children are currently in foster care.Tags: basement, Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Crime, Joanna Blackston, Ohio, Shawn Blackston