MEEKER, Okla. – Charges have been filed against four people accused of allowing an Oklahoma teenager to starve on a property near Meeker.
Authorities say the investigation began after a passerby noticed something wasn’t right.
“A passerby saw a 15-year-old victim out in a field, and became concerned due to his appearance of his condition and called DHS,” Lincoln County First Assistant District Attorney Adam Panter told News 4.
When he was found, the teenager only weighed about 80 pounds and was suffering from severe malnutrition.
Neighbors told News 4 that they didn’t know the boy was 15-years-old, saying he looked like a small 8-year-old.
Investigators say the victim was forced to eat twigs and grass, even though the home was fully stocked with food.
“He had to forage for his own food; he wasn’t allowed food from inside the house,” Panter said.
When he was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital, doctors say they were shocked the boy was still alive.
“The doctors at OU Children’s Hospital, after treating him and testing him and evaluating him, determined that had he not been found, he would have been dead of starvation within a week,” Panter said.
In addition to being malnourished, the teenager also suffered from several injuries.
“He been shot by his dad with a shotgun with birdshot, and x-rays revealed he did have shotgun pellets still lodged in his leg,” Panter said.
Authorities arrested 34-year-old Jimmy Jones, Sr., 46-year-old Amy Jones, 20-year-old Johnathan Plank and 24-year-old Tyler Adkins on a complaint of child neglect.
On Monday, the State of Oklahoma charged Jimmy Jones, Amy Jones, Tyler Adkins and Johnathan Plank with a felony count of child neglect.
Jimmy Jones was also charged with one count of child abuse by injury, while Amy Jones was charged with enabling child abuse by injury.
According to court documents, Amy Jones told investigators that the teenager hadn’t been taken to a doctor because they didn’t have insurance. However, the charges state that investigators were able to find evidence of insurance inside the house.
“Amy then stated that she had repeatedly asked [the victim’s] father to take [victim] to a doctor, but that Jimmy Jones just hadn’t done it,” the documents state.
When speaking with Tyler Adkins, he told investigators that the family treated the victim differently than the other children.
Adkins said that the victim was forced to sleep in the barn, adding that “he would not want to live in that area, nor would he allow children of his own to live in the barn.”
Court documents state that Adkins “wished that he or someone had taken [the victim] for medical care.”
Lincoln County First Assistant District Attorney Adam Panter said that he charged the family with the most serious charges he could based on the facts. Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Panter says he has been asked about “attempted murder” charges, but says that Oklahoma doesn’t have an “attempted murder” charge.