Police: Teen in critical condition after being locked away for 2 years by adoptive parents


Richard and Cynthia Kelly (AL.com)

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HELENA, Ala. – A teen boy is fighting for his life after spending much of two years locked in the basement of his Helena home.

The 14-year-old boy, whose name is not being released, is in critical condition at an undisclosed hospital. At 55 pounds, authorities say he weighs less than half of what a boy his age should weigh.

Police announced charges have been announced against the boy’s adoptive parents.

Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar said this is hard for investigators. It’s tough on them to see the boy like this.

“The child was severely chronically malnourished, dehydrated, suffering from acute respiratory distress, shock, hypothermia, hypothyroid, and he was close to death,” said Folmar. “You just struggle to wrap your head around it.” He said this case was the worst his staff had ever seen in their careers.

Richard and Cynthia Kelly were charged with aggravated child abuse, a Class B felony, late Monday afternoon. They are being held at Shelby the County Jail on $1 million bond each, according to our news partners at Al.com. Police say if convicted, the pair could spend two to 20 years in jail.

According to the arrest warrants, the couple is accused of denying food, nourishment and medical care to the boy, who they say was “subjected to forced isolation for extended periods of time.” Authorities say that “isolation” was disciplinary in nature.


The investigation began Sunday when Helena Police were notified by hospital staff through the Department of Human Resources of the boy’s arrival at the hospital. Authorities say his parents took him there when his condition worsened.

According to ABC 33/40, in a news conference given today police say that the victim as of Tuesday was still being treated at a local hospital said Fulmar, who described the boy as “gravely ill.”

Helena Police would not say if or where the victim attended school but confirmed he was not enrolled at a public school in Helena. Police confirm two other young adults also lived with the Kellys but they did not appear to show any signs of abuse. Those two are not charged in this case.

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