For years, Ethan Kelly was tortured and confined to a filthy basement while his adoptive family enjoyed their lives upstairs.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of child abuse that readers may find disturbing
In a heartbreaking incident in Alabama, the adoptive parents of a teenager tortured him to such an extent that the boy wished to be dead. Ethan Kelly was 14 when he was rescued from the basement of his adoptive parents' home in 2016. Last week, he faced the abusive couple, who had adopted him, for the first time in four years during a court proceeding. Sharing the chilling details of the torture that led up to him being hospitalized in 2016, Kelly explained how Richard and Cynthia Kelly starved him and kept him in such poor conditions that he prayed for death. "I cried every night and prayed for Jesus to end it all," he said during a sentencing hearing.
Boy, 14, wished he was dead as ‘family starved and tortured him in basement while they lived upstairs for YEARS’ https://t.co/dYUVnzsF1c— Carlos Kimathi (@CarlosKimathi) November 15, 2020
Kelly, who is now an 18-year-old senior at Jefferson County high school, explained that he is no more the person he used to be. "I'm not who I used to be," he said. "I'm not even who I was supposed to be. I lived the story of Cinderella with no happy ending." The boy was reportedly locked up in his basement room while the couple happily lived in the house upstairs. Moreover, his living conditions were horrible as the room he was kept in for 23 hours a day was filthy and had minimal furniture, according to The Sun. It was only after Richard brought Kelly to the hospital in November 2016 that the authorities were alerted about his fragile condition.
After years of torture, Kelly was left in acute respiratory shock, according to AL.com. The boy weighed only 55 pounds and was unable to speak when he was brought to the hospital following the ordeal. He was severely malnourished, dehydrated, and was suffering from hypothyroidism and hypothermia. As per reports, the boy was nearly dead when he was admitted to the hospital. After being placed on a ventilator for a week, Kelly made a miraculous recovery. Doctors were quick to contact child services and report the boy's severe condition.
Investigation revealed that the family had two other kids, Tamara and Jacob, who were living with them as well as a dog during the time Kelly was hospitalized. Apparently, they were living in the upper levels of the home while the boy was subjected to poor quality of life as he remained confined to the lower level. "It all changed when I saw Ethan's bedroom. I had to second guess myself that someone was actually living in that room," said Helene police Detective Sean Boczar during the sentencing hearing. The boy's room just had a box spring without a mattress, and two locks as well as an alarm outside the door.
This is one among the worst cases and testimony I've covered in my 34 years of journalism: ‘Cinderella with no happy ending’: Starved Alabama teen locked in basement shares horrifying testimony https://t.co/LWweGSN7OJ— carol robinson (@RobinsonCarol) November 13, 2020
Boczar recalls seeing two windows, neither of which opened, with dirt-stained curtains in the room. Even the family's dog was well looked after, as the pair had thrown a birthday party for it. Kelly was locked up from at least 11 p.m. until morning in the room when he came out to visit the bathroom under his adoptive parents' supervision. Following this, he was put back in his room and his parents claimed that the boy was homeschooled. It was reported that Kelly's brother Eddie was also adopted with him in 2007, however, he was sent away a year later after the pair claimed they could no longer deal with his behavioral issues. The couple, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of child abuse in 2019, gave the same reason for locking up Kelly.
Horrible. I visited Ethan when he was recovering in the hospital, his size & condition for his age was shocking, but I remember he was one of the most humble, respectful and nicest kids I’ve ever met. Praying for him. Hopefully he continues to triumph, live good & be successful!— Mark R. Hall (@MarkRHall) November 13, 2020
Furthermore, they claimed that the boy had become destructive and that their dog would bark at him. Thus, they decided it was best to keep him in a secluded room. They insisted that the boy was fed twice a day, but added that it was controlled as he would "eat too much" had they not restricted him. After Richard and Cynthia Kelly agreed to a plea deal, the judge gave the maximum sentence he could i.e. 10 years behind bars. However, Shelby County Circuit Judge William H Bostick expressed that he would have liked to hand them longer sentences.
Seriously? Just 10 years, with just 2 of those years being served behind bars. Seriously? This, to me, is a perfect scenario where the parents punishment should replicate what these two precious children were subjected to... appalling!— Bob Lochamy (@Bob_Lochamy) November 13, 2020
"Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, it was in your best interest to enter a plea to this charge because if I had the authority, I would sentence you to a lot more than a 10-year split-two sentence," said Bostick. "It would be somewhere in the realm of 20 years to life if I weren't constrained by the law," he continued. According to The Sun, the pair is required to serve at least two years in state prison which will be followed by three years of supervised probation.