Invisible Children

Granddaughter of Steve and Joetta Sells

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.

steve and joetta sells
A 15-year-old girl was beaten, imprisoned, and nearly starved to death by her grandfather, Steve Sells, his wife Joetta Sells, and Steve’s daughter Crystal Sells. The girl, who had special needs, was withdrawn from school in 2010 to be homeschooled. The girl’s 4-year-old sibling was not reported to be abused.

Steve Sells got custody of the girl and her sibling in 2009 when their biological mother Jannifer Sells abandoned them. The girl was kept in a locked room day and night with only a mattress and a bucket to relieve herself. When she was rescued she weighed 38 pounds, she was covered with feces, and her bones protruded through her skin.

The abuse came to light when Joetta and Crystal Sells found her unresponsive and waited 3 hours before calling an ambulance. Steve, Joetta, and Crystal were each charged with multiple felonies, including neglect of a dependent, criminal confinement, and battery.

Date: December 1, 2014
Anderson, Indiana


Documents: Date:
Indiana Girl, 15, Who Weighed Just 35 Pounds, Fighting for Life: Police 12-03-2014
Police: ‘I don’t think people understand. She was starved.’ 12-04-2014
Malnourished Teen in Indiana Weighed Less than 40 Pounds: Report 12-04-2014
3rd person charged in case of malnourished Anderson girl 01-08-2015
Third family member charged with horrific abuse and neglect of mentally disabled teen girl found locked up in a feces-covered room 01-09-2015