Brother of teen rescued from basement says he suffered similar abuse by adoptive parents

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HELENA, Ala. - It's a story that made our hearts ache. A 14-year-old boy found on the brink of death after being locked in a basement and starved.

The town of Helena is just south of Birmingham and is routinely ranked one of the best places to live in Alabama.  For the adopted teen, whose identity is not being released, it was a nightmare.

The teen weighed only 55 pounds at the time of his rescue.

Police said the boy was kept in forced isolation, and was described by doctors as close to death.  He was severely and chronically malnourished, dehydrated, suffering from acute respiratory distress, shock, hypothermia and hypothyroidism.

Now, the boy's older brother has claimed he was similarly tortured by Richard and Cynthia Kelly.

Richard and Cynthia Kelly are being held in the Shelby County Jail with bond set at $1 million each. (

Richard and Cynthia Kelly are being held in the Shelby County Jail with bond set at $1 million each. (

The adoptive parents remain in jail on $1 million bond each. They are charged with aggravated child abuse.

Eddie Carter is now 18 and no longer lives in Alabama.

But, memories of what happened in the basement of the respectable-looking Helena home are never far from his mind.

Eddie recently sat down for an interview with our news partner

For Eddie Carter and his younger brother, it seemed like a miracle.  They were taken from their biological mother in Huntsville and bounced around from foster home to foster home. The boys, then around 11 and 7, were adopted by Richard and Cynthia Kelly through a Christian agency.

But within months , Eddie Carter said that miracle turned into hell on Earth.

"It gets to that point where you're like an animal, well you kind of feel like an animal," said Carter.

The Kellys live in this house in Helena.

The Kellys live in this house in Helena.

Carter said he was often locked in the basement.  The longest stretch for a couple of months with little to eat, no bathroom, no lights.

"When it got dark down there it got dark, like nothing," remembered Carter.  "You would just hear like everyone laughing or doing whatever upstairs, or whatever was happening you're just stuck."

When he did get out, Carter said he starting acting out and he was eventually sent away.  He was upset to leave his brother but not overly worried. He'd never seen the Kellys punish the younger boy.

Now, half a dozen years later, the abuse allegations are a sickening blow.

"I wish he had that same drive as well, my brother, because he's not really aggressive or anything.  He's a good kid," said Carter.  "I'm not saying that because he's my brother, you know he just is, you know he doesn't like fighting or any of that kind of stuff."

The young teen remains hospitalized at Children's of Alabama. According to, he is improving.  He has been taken off the ventilator and even played catch with a police officer in his hospital room.

"His physical therapy is difficult on him and he's still weak and stuff,'' Carter said. "He declined to see any family, I guess because of the mental state he's in. I don't really blame him. Because I know when I left, I was in the part where I was trying to rejuvenate from the whole situation and I can only imagine what he's going through."

As for the Kellys, they are expected in court next week for their preliminary hearings.

No charges have been filed against their 19-year-old adopted daughter,  or her boyfriend, who were also living in the home.