6-Year-Old Boy Deprived of Food as Punishment Starves to Death, Authorities Say; Illinois Couple Charged

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Two adults have been charged with first-degree murder after a 6-year-old Illinois boy died from extreme malnourishment last week, officials said.

Michael Roberts, the boy's father, and Georgena Roberts, his stepmother, have been charged with first degree murder. They also face two counts of endangering the life and health of a child, KTLA sister station KTVI in St. Louis reported Monday.

On Friday, Jerseyville police were called to the Jersey Community Hospital after the malnourished 6-year-old was pronounced dead.

Investigators said the pair deprived the 6-year old and a 7-year-old sibling of food as a form of punishment. The boy lived with three siblings, and two stepsiblings.

"I had no idea that there was supposedly six children living in the house at all," neighbor Lucas Dickerman told KTVI. "They never brought them outside to play. They never brought them over to say 'hi' or anything. Very secretive people."

The surviving children have all been taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services.

Preliminary autopsy findings determined the cause of death was “failure to thrive due to extreme malnourishment.”

Michael and Georgena Roberts are both in custody in the Jersey County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

Jerseyville Police continue to investigate.