Invisible Children

Child of August and Jeanine Halbesleben

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.

Tommy Halbesleben, age 10, was starved by his father, August James Halbesleben, and his stepmother Jeanine Marie Halbesleben, from the summer of 1999—when the Halbeslebens began homeschooling him due to “conflicts with his second grade teacher and school officials”—until February 2000. Jeanine had been convicted in 1999 of misdemeanor injury to a child after she hit Tommy’s older brother and ruptured his eardrum.

The Halbeslebens had attended a parenting class where “they were taught that food limitations could be used as a form of discipline.” When Tommy began misbehaving, they limited his food intake to oatmeal, rice, noodles, and beans. The Halbeslebens claimed not to realize their son was starving, believing he was on a healthy diet. After he was rescued, Tommy gained 6 lbs. in the first 24 hours.

The abuse came to light after an anonymous tip brought officials to the Halbeslebens’ home on a welfare check and declared Tommy in immediate danger. The Halbeslebens were convicted of felony injury to a child on November 3, 2000, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Their conviction was overturned in 2003 and they were re-tried. In a plea agreement to avoid further jail time, August Halbesleben “pleaded guilty to two charges of misdemeanor injury to a child and Jeanine Halbesleben pleaded guilty to one felony charge of injury to a child.”

Date: February 2000
Boise, Idaho


Documents: Date:
Couple get 10 years for starving boy 12-23-2000
STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. August J. HALBESLEBEN and Jeanine M. Halbesleben, Defendants-Appellants. 07-31-2003
Appellate court orders new trial in abuse case 08-01-2003
Sons allowed to abuse tots, charges state 06-08-2005