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Father charged with neglecting his children

Court records: Girl and boy showed 'classic signs of starvation'

August 24, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy who showed "classic signs of starvation" were found Friday in a Martinsburg home that had a padlock on the refrigerator door and a deadbolt on the food pantry, according to court records.

Jesse A. Lafferty of 292 Labonte Drive, the father of children, was in Eastern Regional Jail on Monday charged with two felony counts of child neglect by parent or guardian leading to serious bodily injury, two felony counts of child abuse by parent or guardian and four felony counts of conspiracy to commit the abuse and neglect, according to court and jail records.

Lafferty, 32, was jailed on a $140,000 bond set by Berkeley County Magistrate JoAnn Overington, according to jail and court records.

Arrest warrants similarly charging Lafferty's girlfriend, Karen S. Boback, who lived with Lafferty, have been issued, but she had not been arraigned as of Monday night, according to court records.

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Boback allegedly told police Monday that Lafferty punished the children by withholding food from them over a 24-hour period, made them take cold showers, spanked them with a belt and forced them to spend the night in the home's unfinished basement, according to a complaint filed with the court by West Virginia State Police J.M. Walker.

"When questioned concerning the frequency of food being withheld from his children, Ms. Boback stated out of seven days (Lafferty) would withhold food from his children two to three days," Walker wrote in his complaint.

The basement door had a lock on it with a doorbell at the top of the door, according to court records.

Boback told police the children spent 50 to 60 percent of their time in the basement, according to court records.

In a walk-through of the home Friday, Walker found the basement's concrete floor was bare except for a small piece of carpet and a couple of blankets, according to court records. A baby monitor was found near the blankets, and a child's portable toilet was in one corner of the basement, according to court records.

On Saturday, a forensic nurse at Winchester (Va.) Medical Center told State Police Sgt. D.E. Boober that it was "evident to her that both children were underweight and malnourished" after examining them, according to Walker's complaint.

An official with the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources on Friday told Walker that she believed the children exhibited signs of being starved and that a case worker was attempting to remove them from the home, according to court records.

Boback told investigators that she believed her boyfriend's treatment of his children was a crime, according to Walker and court records.

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