An emaciated Oklahoma teen was reportedly “within a week of death” Thursday when cops found him living in his well-fed family’s barn — where he said he’d been surviving on a diet of sticks, leaves and grass for nearly two years.
Now four members of the teen's family are behind bars, on child neglect charges, Oklahoma City's FOX 25 reported.
The 15-year-old boy weighed 80 pounds when authorities found him last Thursday in the barn along with goats, rabbits and chickens following a tip from a concerned passerby, the Oklahoman reported.
“We’re incredibly thankful that someone called. ... They literally saved this child’s life,” Adam Panter, Pottawatomie/Lincoln County first assistant district attorney, told the Shawnee News-Star. “He could have died and been buried on that property and no one would have ever known.”
“We’re incredibly thankful that someone called. ... They literally saved this child’s life. He could have died and been buried on that property and no one would have ever known.”
The boy’s father, stepmother and two older brothers were arrested on child neglect warrants and booked into jail the following day.
Those arrested were identified as Jimmy Jones Sr., 34; Amy Jones, 46; Johnathan Plank, 20; and Tyler Adkins, 24, FOX 25 reported.
"He was malnourished and had suffered abuse," Panter told the Oklahoman about the teen. "Doctors said he was within a week of death."
The boy told authorities that his father had shot him in a leg with a 12-gauge shotgun about a year ago, according to the paper. He also had a head injury, which become infected with maggots, he told authorities.
The boy’s father dug out the maggots and used glue to close the wound, the paper reported, citing an affidavit. The boy said he wasn’t allowed to leave the property for approximately two years.
Authorities said despite the boy being underweight, the rest of the family appeared well-fed.
One of the boy’s brothers said the 15-year-old was not allowed to sleep in the house, and could only go into the residence to use the bathroom, the paper reported, citing an affidavit.
The boy was taken to a hospital where was in fair condition, the paper reported.
The boy’s stepmother told investigators she didn’t realize the extent of her son’s malnourishment, but acknowledged he should have been given medical attention, according to the paper. Investigators also found proof of insurance, despite the woman’s claim that they didn’t have any.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services declined to comment on the case to the paper.