A Berkeley County man who allegedly punished his 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter by starving them and forcing them to live in an unfinished basement
remained in custody Tuesday at Eastern Regional Jail following his arrest Monday on child abuse charges.
Jesse Arlo Lafferty
, 32, of Labonte Drive, was arraigned late Monday afternoon by Magistrate JoAnn Overington on two counts each of child abuse, child neglect, conspiracy to commit child neglect and conspiracy to commit child abuse.
Lafferty's girlfriend, Karen Sue Boback
, also of Labonte Drive, faces the same charges and warrants for her arrest have been filed, but she has not yet been arraigned on them as of Tuesday.
"They exhibited signs of being starved to death," Walker said. "I mean they had very little muscle on their bones and obviously no fat
During a walkthrough of the home, Walker noted that the refrigerator had a padlock
installed on the door and the food pantry had a deadbolt that required a key
to open, records show.
Walker also found the basement door had a lock on it with a doorbell installed at the top, which would sound every time the door opened and closed
. Other than a small piece of carpet and a few blankets, the entire concrete basement was unfinished. Walker also found a baby monitor and toys in the vicinity of the blankets and a child's portable toilet in the corner.
"It appeared that the children spent a substantial amount of time in that unfinished basement," Walker said.
On Monday, Boback was interviewed by police after more information was obtained from other witnesses. When questioned, she stated that Lafferty would punish his children by making them take cold showers, withholding food from them, spanking them with a belt and making them stay the night in the unfinished basement
"I was told between 50 and 60 percent of their time was spent in the basement," Walker said.
Boback also told police that Lafferty sometimes withheld food from his children for more than 24 hours.
"A little bit later on during questioning she stated that, 'Well, Jesse didn't starve them all the time.'
After further questioning based upon that statement that she made, she stated that there were times where he would only feed them once during a 24-hour period or they would not even be fed during a 24-hour period," Walker said.
When questioned even further, Boback said that out of seven days a week, Lafferty would withhold food from his children for two or three days a week.
Boback also stated she believed it was a crime what Lafferty did to his two children after being asked by Walker.
"I (also) said do you think it's a crime that you did not come forth to authorities and alert them of what was occurring (and) do you think that was a crime that you failed to do that. She said yeah," Walker said. "She has a responsibility definitely. These are helpless individuals."
Walker said he believed the reason why Boback hadn't been arraigned yet on the charges she faces in the case is because she was reported to be in the hospital.
Boback has two children herself who also lived at Lafferty's home on a temporary basis. Statements also were taken from those children, which corroborated the abuse
detailed by Boback during questioning. Boback's children did not show signs of abuse.
"They were fine. Those two children had their own bedrooms, their own bed and everything. Jesse's children were confined to a concrete basement and lived on a concrete floor,"
Lafferty's two children are currently in the custody of DHHR, and Walker said he believed they have since been placed in a foster home.