Invisible Children

2 children of Jessica Botzko and John Westover

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.

john westover and jessica botzko
Two boys, ages 10 and 5, were locked in cages by their parents, Jessica Botzko and John Westover, as punishment for stealing food and whenever Westover was making drugs. The older boy was also sometimes forced to wear a dog’s shock collar; he had previously been “removed from the home in 1998 when Botzko was charged with child endangering.” Westover was wanted on child endangering charges stemming from a report of the family living in a filthy hotel room in Maumee, Ohio in 2004. The older boy had attended school until December 2003 but Botzko then pulled him from school, later telling police she was homeschooling him. “Toledo Public Schools has no record of either boy enrolled in the district or their parents applying for home-schooling.” The family moved frequently to avoid the authorities and the boys were not allowed to leave the house. Westover and Botzko also had a daughter who had died, reportedly of SIDS, several years before.

The abuse came to light in May 2007 when the boys were left alone and escaped to a neighbor’s house. The neighbor alerted police. Westover and Botzko both pleaded no contest to child endangering and were sentenced to four years in prison.

Date: May 1, 2007
Toledo, Ohio

Documents: Date:
Police: Ohio Couple Put Son in Cage 05-03-2007
Parents charged with putting son, 10, in cage 05-03-2007
Judge Sets Bond for Two Accused of Child Endangerment
Parents Charged for Keeping Boy in Dog Cage 05-03-2007
Couple, kids stayed on the move, records and relatives reveal 05-05-2007
Ohio Woman Gets 4 Years in Son’s Caging 10-10-2007
Dad accused of caging boy sent to prison 10-18-2007