Boy In Closet
Au 6-year-old boy in Marshall County, Indiana, endured a horrible fate because his mother no longer wanted to care for him. She left him with his father and never came back. The boy was locked repeatedly inside a hot, dark, airless bathroom closet for more than 24 hours at a time. His crime, you ask? He was not able to fall asleep. The story gets worse, much worse. The boy was chained so that he could not sit down, forced to eat food coated with burning sauce, deprived of liquids, and when he lost control of his bowels, his captors would open the closet and rub his feces into his face. His captors were not strangers, they were his parents. His father, Joseph Grad, and his stepmother, Carmen. The little boy would beg and scream to be free. Sometimes his cries would be drowned out by a blaring radio, other times he was silenced with dish soap. His life was a living hell. One person heard his screams, and she, too, was a child.
The boy's 14-year-old stepsister could no longer stand what was being done to her brother. She ran away, and took refuge in Kentucky. Her mother, Carmen, had an idea of her hideout and alerted the police. Indiana police contacted a deputy in Kentucky who found the missing girl. She told the deputy the sordid story of her little brother. Deputy Todd Pate couldn't imagine anyone fabricating such a tale. He talked to an Indiana deputy, who in turn called the Indiana Department of Children and Family Services. DCFS visited the trailer and could not find sufficient evidence to remove the boy from his home. Deputy Pate could not let this story go.
Joseph and Carmen Grad were sentenced to only 4 1/2 years in prison. As of a month ago, Joseph Grad was about to walk out of jail after serving only a year and a half of his sentence. Where is the justice?
In the quiet town of Brillon, Wisconsin, terror raged in the home of Michael and Angeline Rogers. The parents of four boys and one girl, the parents would beat their children with sticks and deprive them of food. Neighbors filed complaints about the conditions within this home. The Calumet Department of Children and Family Services judged allegations of abuse or neglect were unsubstantiated, and left the children in their parents' care. Then, one freezing night during a routine beating, the Rogers struck their 9-year-old and 11-year-old sons with wooden rods, and kicked them out of the house. The 11-year-old walked barefoot and coatless to the police department, and told them of his family's horrifying secret.
He told them that his parents were keeping his 7-year-old sister in a small dog cage in their cold, dark basement. She was kept hungry and thirsty. She was forced to lie in her own excrement. When she cried, his mother would call her a "little pig" and spray her with freezing water from a hose. He had also found her stuffed in a plastic container on a shelf in the basement, gasping for air and covered in her own feces. When he finished telling his story, the police rushed to the Rogers home and found his sister trapped in the dog cage. Finally, the Rogers were caught.
Michael and Angeline Rogers pled guilty to felony counts of child abuse, which could have sent them to prison for 40 years each. Instead they were given no state prison time at all. The judge commented "that if the little girl had died as a result of the child abuse, they would be heading off to prison. But that didn't happen." The Rogers were allowed to live for a year in the Calumet County jail and were allowed to leave that jail for up to 60 hours a week.
The children were separated. The 11-year-old boy was placed in foster care, while the little girl and two brothers moved in with Michael Rogers' brother.
Where is the justice?
Joseph Michael Duncan
Recess is a time for second-graders to have some fun, but in Marion, Illinois, in the spring of 1998, Joseph Duncan was in pain. He told his teacher that his back burned and stung. She looked underneath his shirt and said she saw "the worst welts she had ever seen." Reluctantly, the 8-year-old boy acknowledged that he'd been whipped with an extension cord by his mother's boyfriend, Ernest Bruny. The boy said it was not the first time. The teacher could see he was in terrible trouble and that someone must rescue him. She alerted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
An investigator was sent to the home. Ernest Bruny and Joseph's mother, Donna Duncan, were apologetic and cooperative. The investigator felt reassured, and felt there was no need to remove the child from his home.
Shortly after that visit, the family moved to Lake of Egypt, Ill. Another investigator was sent out to check on Joseph. In the presence of Bruny and Duncan, the investigator asked Joseph, "how he was doing?" He said, "Fine." He had enrolled in a new school.
Next, his mother temporarily moved to Florida, leaving Joseph behind with Bruny. Suddenly, Joseph stopped showing up at school. And in late September, Johnson County police received a phone call from Florida police. Donna Duncan had made disturbing comments about her son and her boyfriend, Ernest Bruny. That night, the sheriff and two police officers drove to Bruny's home to see Joseph. Bruny said the boy was living with his mother in Florida. The police officers searched the house to find a bulging suitcase in the bathroom off the master bedroom. Inside the suitcase were plastic bags. The sheriff took out a pocketknife, slit into the bags and saw a leg.
Joseph had been dead for two days. He died from blunt trauma to all parts of his body.
Ernest Bruny and Joseph's mother, Donna Duncan, were charged with murder.
Joseph's death could have been avoided. The system failed.