Invisible Children

Sarah Neely

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.

11-year-old Sarah Neely’s teachers became concerned when she began losing weight. Then, in October 2004, her father, Jon Neely, removed her from school to homeschool her. Opting for a Home School Assistance Program, one of Iowa’s homeschool options at the time, Sarah’s father and stepmother homeschooled her under the supervision of a certified teacher. In January Sarah’s father began canceling meetings with their supervising teacher because of “family emergencies,” a red flag that ultimately led the teacher to report the family to the police. Police found the girl at home alone, locked in an empty room. The windows were covered with foil and the light fixture had no bulb. Sarah’s father said he was punishing her for stealing food, but she was 30 pounds below the average weight for her age. Sarah spent some time in foster care before being sent to Germany to live with her mother and brothers.

Date: February 18, 2005
Location: De Moines, Iowa

Documents: Date:
A simple form puts children in home-schooling 2005-04-12
Girl locked in a room without food is healthy in Germany with mother 2005-10-06