Authorities in Georgia on Sunday said they arrested the parents of an 18-year-old after discovering that the couple would allegedly lock their daughter in her room for extended periods of time and “beat the soles of her feet” as a form of punishment.
Neil and Janet Farrell were taken into custody and face charges of exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, false imprisonment and two counts of first degree cruelty to children after the couple informed authorities that their daughter was missing, a news release from the Pickens Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities arrived to the family's home Saturday after learning that the teen had been missing since entering a wooded area hours earlier, the sheriff’s office said. The Farrells, who authorities said had “active adult guardianship” of the teen, reported that she had a number of behavioral issues.
A search ensued, during which investigators found “areas of concern” in the family home, such as “the use of video recording equipment inside of the daughter’s room, a lock on the door that prevented her from leaving the bedroom, and the lack of any personal affects within the room,” the sheriff’s office said.
The department said they ultimately found the teen, who “had been walking through the night,” after getting a call about a sighting roughly 15 miles away. Following the arrest of the parents, authorities said they arranged “a safe environment” for the teen to stay in.
Detectives reportedly discovered evidence that showed the parents would lock the teen in her room for stretches “ranging from days to months” at a time as “a common form of discipline.”
“During some of these time periods, she would only be provided meals and very limited opportunities to use a restroom,” the sheriff’s office said, adding that during “at least one ‘grounding period,’” the teen was allegedly given a bucket when she had to go to the bathroom outside of the allotted schedule.
Among other types of “punishment,” the teen was allegedly hit on the bottoms of her feet “to prevent visible bruising,” the sheriff’s said.
The couple is expected to appear for a bond hearing Thursday afternoon and could be hit with additional charges, the sheriff’s office said.