KOKOMO, Ind. – The father of a 4-year-old girl said he had no idea that she was suffering abuse that police say included being held in closets for weeks while bound with zip ties.
Mary Deakyne and her 4-year-old cousin, Justin Leonard, were being treated at a hospital for injuries after they were found Monday at the Kokomo home where they lived with their mothers.
Mary's father, Aaron Deakyne, of Anderson, said he last saw his daughter in January and that while she appeared well cared for and happy, he later sensed that something was wrong.
"Really I don't know what to think right now," DeaKyne said Wednesday. "I'm just at a loss. I'd talk to my daughter on the phone every once in a while but a lot of the times I got that she was in bed, she was asleep."
His daughter had several broken bones in her hands and arms in various stages of healing, meaning she suffered the injuries at different times, police have said. The boy had no internal injuries but did have several bruises and cuts, police said.
The children's mothers, Jennifer Leonard, 36, and Melissa Chandler, 30, who are sisters, face charges of neglect and aiding, inducing or causing battery. Madeline Hawk, 42, faced charges of neglect and battery, and her husband, Donald Hawk, 33, was charged with neglect. Police say the Hawks were friends of Chandler and Leonard.
Authorities said all four adults shared the home with the children. They were being held without bond pending initial court appearances.
Investigators say both children had been abused daily, bound and kept in a closet, one of them for three weeks at one time. They also had been bound with zip ties to door knobs, a fan and other household items to restrict their movements.
City police Lt. Don Whitehead said investigators were not yet sure about the location of the abused boy's father.
"He hasn't been around at all in the child's life," he said.
The emotional wounds suffered by the children — many of which won't manifest until much later in life — will take longer to heal, said Bob McClurg, a Kokomo child clinical psychologist who works with abused and neglected children.
He also said children typically are unaware that what's happening to them is wrong.
"If they have never known anything but that, there's no contrast for them," McClurg said. "Their trauma may come afterwards when they get older and see how people really treat people."
In the end, McClurg said given the opportunity and treatment, most children go on to have a normal life.
"They have youth on their side," he said. "With good support and good treatment, they can overcome it."