Invisible Children

7 Children of Adrienne Bartholomew and James Brothers

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.

Seven children—boys ages 11, 7, 6, 6, 2, and 18 months, and a girl of unknown age—were medically neglected and starved by their parents, Adrienne Bartholomew and James Brothers, and their grandmother Debra Nelson. The children were homeschooled: the 11-year-old attended online school, and the 7-, 6-, and 6-year-old boys had individual education plans whereby they attended the public school one day per week to receive special education services. Five of the children (the 7-year-old, the two 6-year-olds, the 2-year-old, and the 18-month-old) were disabled by a rare genetic disorder that made them unable to retain healthy fat deposits.

Despite the children’s complex medical needs and the presence of the children’s grandmother as an in-home caregiver, the 11-year-old boy was primarily responsible for caring for and feeding his younger siblings while the adults in the home neglected them, bathing them only once a week and cleaning the house only in preparation for social worker visits.

The abuse came to light when the 18-month-old, Isaac Brothers-Bartholomew, died of dehydration and malnourishment and his parents called the police. When the other children were rescued, they were covered in vomit and urine and severely malnourished—one of the 6-year-olds weighed only 23 pounds. Bartholomew, Brothers, and Nelson were each charged with involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, and patient endangerment. Brothers was sentenced to six years in prison while Bartholomew received three.

Date: November 6, 2012
Vermilion Township, Ohio


Documents: Date:
Vermilion Schools: ‘Family had complex medical needs’ 11-13-2012
State to review county’s handling of Vermilion Twp. case 11-14-2012
Family services had been involved with Vermilion Township family of baby who died of starvation (911 audio) 11-14-2012
Dead 18-month-old boy weighed just over 12 pounds 11-15-2012
Parents, grandma charged in Vermilion starved children case 01-07-2013
Baby Isaac’s family pleads guilty in malnutrition death 08-27-2013
Starved child’s parents sent to prison 11-05-2013
Lawsuit filed on behalf of siblings of starved boy 11-07-2014
Starved Vermilion boy’s estate, siblings file suit 11-08-2014