Nine people, including five teenagers, in North Judson, Indiana, are facing charges after deputies discovered a 3-year-old girl locked inside a wooden box, according to local reports.
Officers from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department responded to the home, in a small town about 65 miles southeast of Chicago, to investigate reports of child abuse last week, according to television station WSBT in South Bend.
After obtaining a search warrant, officers on Dec. 14 checked out the property and found the girl inside a locked plywood box in the living room, according to the television station. The girl was apparently kept in it for extended periods of time, authorities said.
It was unclear if she was injured, or what her condition was when she was found.
Multiple adults were taken to jail, the station reported. They were found in the home, in a camper outside the home, and in a vehicle on the property, WSBT reported.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Jeffrey Richwine said it was the worst case of child abuse he could recall, WNDU in South Bend reported.
“Never seen anything like this,” Richwine said. “You go there and think, ‘Hopefully this is not true. Nobody’s going to have a small girl in a box, that’s just not going to happen.’ And you go there, when they say it, you just don’t believe it. You’re thinking, ‘My God, who would do this?'”
A total of nine people face charges in connection with the incident.
Patricia Meeks, 18, Donna Short, 42 and Christopher Short, 25, were charged with child neglect. Six other people were charged with failure to report child abuse.
They have been identified as: Derrick Butala, 36; Shawn Griffin, 18; Michael Meeks, 19; Thelma Meeks, 38; Anna Senesac, 19; and Timothy Senesac, 18.
The 3-year-old girl, as well as five other juveniles, were released to the custody of the Pulaski County Indiana Department of Child Services.
KTLA’s Tracy Bloom and Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.