Girlfriend of man accused of starving children is charged

August 26, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Karen Sue Boback

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The girlfriend of a man accused of depriving his 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son of food over a 24-hour period and forcing them to sleep in an unfinished basement as a form of punishment was arrested Thursday on the same charges.

Karen Sue Boback, 43, of 292 Labonte Drive in Martinsburg, was 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 Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Boback and her boyfriend, Jesse A. Lafferty, 32, were in Eastern Regional Jail on $140,000 bonds Thursday, according to jail and court records. A preliminary hearing in magistrate court for Lafferty, who was arrested earlier this week, is scheduled for Monday, according to court records.

After being arraigned by Magistrate Sandra L. Miller, Boback exhibited some physical duress as she left the Berkeley County Judicial Center and was taken to jail by West Virginia State Police Cpl. J.M. Walker.


Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Thursday she didn't know how long the alleged abuses of the children had been happening and could not discuss their medical condition.

A forensic nurse told police that both children were underweight and malnourished, and exhibited classic signs of starvation, according to court records.

The biological mother lives in another state and "to our knowledge, (Lafferty) is the custodial parent," Games-Neely said. "We have no reason to charge the biological mother."

Boback told police 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 court records.

Boback indicated that food was being withheld from Lafferty's children two to three days out of every seven and they spent 50 to 60 percent of their time in the basement, according to court records.

In the home last Friday, authorities found a padlock on the refrigerator door and a deadbolt on the food pantry, according to court records. The basement door had a lock on it, and there was a doorbell at the top of the door, records show.

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.

A caseworker with the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources was attempting to remove the children from the home before police were contacted, according to court records.

The children no longer are under the care of Lafferty and Boback, Games-Neely said.

The Herald-Mail Articles