Parents of a 6-year-old girl were arrested after state police say they abused, starved, and locked her up in a dog crate.
Jacob Weight Jr. and Mimi Frost were arrested Tuesday morning.
The two are charged with unlawful restraint of a minor, aggravated assault and child neglect as well as several other charges.
This all started on Jan. 7, 2024, when 911 received a call to Sheridan Avenue about an unresponsive 6-year-old. According to court documents, one of the older children living in the house was bathing her when she stopped responding.
Fayette County District Attorney Mike Aubele said the girl was kept in a dog crate, was hypothermic, had abrasions, sores, and a bad infection.
“The 6-year-old child was left in this cage naked without food. She would be punished if she was able to escape that cage to go get food. And to make matters worse, there’s evidence that at least a few of these children may have participated in the abuse with the parents,” he said.
Aubele said it is possible some of the children could face charges for participating in the alleged abuse. “It does seem like they were they were raised with this notion that this that this girl was that she deserved it, which is horrific in itself,” Aubele said.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke with Weight as he was being taken to jail. He said he was innocent. Frost did not answer questions.
Aubele said there were a total of six children living in the house, ranging from 5 to 17 years old, but only the 6-year-old was targeted.
“We’re trying to figure that out. It’s incredible, incredibly callous. This child was tortured and we don’t really understand why. It didn’t seem like any of the other children in the house were suffering any abuse,” he said.
State police said the home in Brownsville was deplorable, with feces and flies all around. According to court documents, testimony from one of the teens in the house accused Frost of being particularly harsh to the 6-year-old, keeping her naked in the dog crate, zip-tying it so she could not get out, and not feeding her for days at a time. The teen also said the floor under the dog crate was deteriorating because the feces and urine were never cleaned.
“This girl’s been through a lot. And it’s only by the grace of God that she was able to survive the torture that she endured,” Aubele said.
According to court documents, the 5-year-old was asked about the situation, and if anyone helped the victim clean up her poop and pee. The child responded, “They want her to eat it… my parents.”
The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance says child abuse cases have been on the rise for the past couple of years.
“The really severe cases have been increasing,” program director Haven Evan said. “Actually, in 2022, that combined total of fatalities and near fatalities was the highest on record.”
The numbers for 2023 have not yet been released, but Haven says she expects to see the trend increase. She says right now, there is a lot of concern and attention surrounding the driving factors into what drives child abuse.
In the case of the 6-year-old in Brownsville, “there was evidence of serious, serious abuse. … She was lucky to be alive at that point,” Aubele said.
Frost and Weight are scheduled for court on Feb. 20.
From WTAE, February 6, 2024