A grand jury indicted a Louisa County couple yesterday on felony charges in the alleged torture of their 8-year-old granddaughter.
Laura Jewell, 49, and her husband, Ronald Jewell, 48, were indicted on one count each of torture and felony child abuse. Laura Jewell faces an additional charge of malicious wounding.
A neighbor called 911 on Thursday shortly before 3 a.m. after the child left the home she shared with her grandparents, arrived at the neighbor's home, and reported that she had been abused, Louisa sheriff's Maj. Donald A. Lowe said.
"She had bruises all over her," Lowe said. "Her ear had been partially torn. She had blood on her."
The girl had bruises on her head, arms and legs, Lowe said. One of her feet was broken, and some of her hair had been pulled out.
"It just looked like a lot of beatings," Lowe said. "It might have been ongoing."
"This was especially shocking, what we saw," Lowe said. "And actually pretty heartbreaking to have a child go through that -- to have to sneak out of the house and have to report it to somebody."
He said the girl had been living with her grandparents and some siblings in Blue Ridge Shores, which Lowe described as a gated community on Lake Louisa.
"The parents appear to be absent from the children's lives right now," he said.
Lowe said none of the other children appeared to be hurt. They were released to social-services officials.
Ronald Jewell's attorney, John R. Maus, said yesterday that his client became distraught during a court hearing last week.
"When he saw the pictures of the child at his bond hearing, he broke down in tears and told the judge he had no idea that was going on," Maus said.
Maus said Ronald Jewell had been working in the Washington area installing or maintaining sprinkler systems. He would work nights and sleep during the day, Maus said.
Messages left for Laura Jewell's attorney were not returned yesterday. She faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Her husband faces up to 15 years.