Invisible Children

Matthew Degner and 4 Siblings

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

After 14 year old Matthew Degner died, his mother dragged his dead body outside in hopes that officials would not look inside her home and see its squalid condition—or the 200 animals, riddled with disease, she kept there in cages. Matthew’s mother had isolated him and his four siblings, telling officials that they were being homeschooled. Neighbors reported that they had only seen the boy once. She sealed the doors and windows of her home with thick Styrofoam, plastic sheeting, and duct tape to keep the smells of the animals indoors. After Matthew’s death, authorities removed three of his siblings, age 12 through 17, from the home (all three needed medical care) and a fourth, age 18, was hospitalized. Matthew had special needs.

Date: September 2011
Location: Berwyn, Illinois

Documents: Date:
Boy, 14, found dead in squalid bungalow housing more than 200 animals riddled with disease 2011-09-12
What Went Wrong in Disabled Berwyn Teen Matthew Degner’s Death?