Elisabeth, Katharina, and Viktoria Mittermayer

Elisabeth (b. 1985), Katharina (b. 1987), and Viktoria (b. 1991) Mittermayer were emotionally abused and neglected by their mother, Ingrid L.,for seven years. During this period, all three girls were homeschooled.

Elisabeth, Katharina, and Viktoria Mittermayer grew up in a middle-class family in Linz, Austria. The girls’ father was a judge and their mother, Ingrid L., was an attorney. When the girls’ parents divorced in 1998, Ingrid won custody of the three girls, who were 13, 11, and 7 at the time. Shortly after the divorce, Ingrid pulled Elisabeth out of school to homeschool her, while Katharina and Viktoria continued attending school. However, neighbors noticed that Elisabeth rarely left the house, and Ingrid sometimes locked Elisabeth inside while she left the house for hours. Ingrid also allowed trash and the excrement of the family dog to build up inside the house. She told the three girls that their father was a monster and refused to let him see them. Over the course of seven years, Ingrid was summoned to court nine times due to complaints by the girls’ father and by neighbors, but evaded charges due to her profession as a lawyer.

In 2000, Ingrid pulled Katharina, now 12 years old, out of school. School authorities, who had agreed that Ingrid could homeschool Elisabeth, found her “uncooperative” when they attempted to contact her about Katharina. A judge ordered psychotherapy for Katharina in 2002, but Ingrid did not allow her to attend for long. In mid-2003, when a Linz court reminded Ingrid of her responsibility to educate her two oldest daughters, they received no response. When Katharina and Viktoria were briefly hospitalized in August of that year, Ingrid barred their father from visiting the girls. In March of 2005, Ingrid pulled Viktoria out of school. When the court sent a delegate to the house in April to inquire about Viktoria’s absences, Ingrid refused to open the door.

The abuse came to light in June 2005, when the local Society for the Protection of Animals sent a veterinarian to the family’s house. A neighbor had reported seeing “filth” inside the house when the Mittermayers’ golden retriever, Linda, brushed the curtain aside. The veterinarian reported the unsanitary conditions inside the house to the police, who ordered all three girls removed from the house in October 2005. Elisabeth, who was by then a legal adult, refused to leave. Social workers and police convinced Elisabeth to leave her mother and reunite with her sisters the following year. Ingrid was found guilty of child neglect and all three girls received psychiatric care to recover from their experience.

Date: June 2005
Austria Read More

Isabella Kalua

Isabella Kalua

Isabella Kalua, age 6, disappeared from the home of her adoptive parents, Isaac K. “Sonny” Kalua III and Lehua Kalua. Isabella was homeschooled.

Isabella was born Ariel Sellers to Melanie Joseph and Adam Sellers, who also had four other daughters. The five girls were removed from Joseph’s home due to their parents’ drug use; one girl went to live with a family member while Ariel and her other three sisters were fostered by the Kaluas. Isaac Kalua had several felony convictions for assault and terroristic threatening; investigators are trying to determine how Ariel and her sisters were placed with the Kaluas. The Kaluas changed Ariel’s name to Isabella and eventually adopted her. In October 2019, the Kaluas delayed seeking treatment after Isabella broke her finger. According to the Kaluas, Isabella’s hand was slammed in a door. In January 2020, Isabella went to the ER with a broken leg, which the Kaluas claimed was related to jumping on a trampoline. Both injuries were investigated by child services who determined there was no maltreatment. During the 2020-2021 school year, Isabella was enrolled in kindergarten at Waimanalo Elementary via distance learning. However, in June 2021, “her adoptive parents filed paperwork to withdraw the child and home-school her.”

According to the Kaluas, Isabella had a habit of leaving the house at night to sleep in the yard. On September 12, 2021, Isabella disappeared from the Kaluas’ home. The Kaluas reported her disappearance the following day, claiming that she was abducted or wandered off. According to Joseph, a boy in Isabella’s class said he had not seen her in a week; it’s unclear what class she meant. Joseph’s family, including Isabella’s biological aunt Lana Idao, organized a massive search for Isabella, according to family spokesperson Jamie Kumai. The Kaluas did not participate in the search. The search was suspended September 20 and Isabella’s three sisters were removed from the Kaluas’ custody. The investigation is ongoing.

Date: September 12, 2021
Waimanalo, Oahu, Hawaii Read More

Boy by Krystal Jackson

Krystal Jackson

A 14-year-old boy, R., was sexually abused by his homeschool teacher, Krystal Jackson.

R. was enrolled in Mountain View (Independent Study) School, an alternative public K-12 school where students work independently in their homes and meet weekly in-person with a supervising teacher. Jackson was R.’s supervising teacher. She began working for the Kings Canyon Unified School District (where Mountain View School is located) in 2020, but she had worked for several other school districts in the Central Valley region prior to that time. Jackson and R. met weekly on the campus of Dunlap Leadership Academy, a public online high school which partnered with Mountain View School to facilitate the one-on-one meetings. During those meetings, over the course of at least three months, Jackson raped R. four times and subjected him to other forms of sexual abuse.

The abuse came to light when authorities received a tip and promptly investigated. Jackson was charged with rape, continuous sexual abuse, and a number of other sex crimes.

Date: September 3, 2021
Reedley, California Read More

7 Children of Matthew and Rebecca Hibicki

Seven children—six girls A. (b. 2007), Ru. (b. 2009), L. (b. 2011), Ro., S., and D. (b. 2018), and a boy W. (b. 2016)—were physically, medically, and educationally neglected by their parents, Matthew and Rebecca “Becky” Hibicki. The children were homeschooled.

The Hibickis operated a small dairy farm; Matthew Hibicki was also a rural mail carrier while Becky Hibicki worked full-time for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. The family was active in the Green Lake County 4-H program, which was apparently the “only real outside contact” the children had. The children lived in a home filled with feces and trash, slept in shared soiled beds, were forced to use a bucket for a toilet at night and to wear torn and dirty clothes, and were rarely allowed to bathe because Matthew Hibicki “did not like the kids to have showers every other night”. The children “did not know they needed to wash their hands after using the bathroom”. Some of the children had diabetes and “were largely responsible for monitoring each other’s calorie count and insulin dosing as it related to their diabetes”. Several of the children had other medical problems: at least one had significant dental problems, one had a nail stuck in her foot, W. sustained a head injury in a three-wheeler accident, one suffered from frequent headaches and dizziness, and one had significant eye problems requiring the assistance of an ophthalmic surgeon. The Hibickis refused to seek medical treatment for all of these medical issues. The children may also have been forced to labor on the farm to the detriment of their educations; following Matthew Hibicki’s injury the family stated that “The farm is being managed by an amazing crew of neighbors along with their oldest child,” who was 13 at the time.

Becky Hibicki filed the required forms each year to notify the district she was homeschooling. However, prior to June 2020, the children had not received much education for a year; according to Matthew Hibicki, “the kids only need to know how to milk cows and be good wives.” All were significantly behind on their education with difficulties in reading and basic math: according to court documents, 11-year-old Ru. was “unable to read, wants to attend school and ‘is enthusiastic about learning more,’…only after being removed from her parents’ custody is the girl working on a kindergarten book and has learned to write her name. She can count to 13 but didn’t know the month of the year. ‘Based on [her] age and no known developmental delays, had she attended school or been taught regularly she would likely know how to read, count and be working at a much higher grade level.”

On June 22, 2020, Matthew Hibicki was hospitalized due to a farm accident which left him permanently disabled, necessitating the sale of the family’s dairy herd. This event coincided with social services receiving a tip about the children’s living conditions, and on June 26, two sheriff’s detectives and two social services employees toured the Hibickis’ house and determined it was unsafe for the children. The Hibickis were charged with 22 counts of felony child neglect.

Date: June 26, 2020
Ripon, Wisconsin Read More

Serah Bellar, and 18 siblings

Serah Bellar

Serah Bellar (b. 2003) was physically and sexually abused by her family members. Several of her siblings were also abused. Serah was homeschooled.

Serah’s parents, Robert and Deborah Bellar, had 18 biological children and 1 adopted child. The family may have espoused Quiverfull ideology; Deborah Bellar told law enforcement that “God would give her all the children she was meant to have.” The family belonged to the Dove Outreach church, a new religious movement of around 8 adults led by Robert Bellar’s brother James “Jim” Bellar. Serah and her siblings were forced to attend Dove Outreach, which Serah characterized as a cult; Jim Bellar preached in favor of sibling incest in anticipation of the apocalypse and ran a church-affiliated online gaming association.

Serah attended an online homeschool. In the Bellars’ home, Serah was physically abused by her father, and her brothers systematically sexually abused their younger siblings with the knowledge and protection of their parents. Serah’s brother Josiah (b. 1997) raped two of his sisters between 2011 and 2016, and Serah’s brother Jonathan (b. 1994) sexually assaulted one of the same two girls between 2008 and 2016. In January 2016, Serah’s oldest brother Benjamin Bellar (b. 1991) was arrested and sent to prison for cooking meth in the Bellars’ home. Later that year, in October 2016, Serah’s brother Jacob Bellar (b. 1998) was arrested and sent to prison for severely physically abusing his 10-month-old son. The following month, in November 2016, Josiah was arrested and sent to prison for theft. Beginning in February 2017, multiple sexual abuse reports were filed with child services. On May 7, 2018, Serah attempted to run away from home but was stopped by a police officer. She reported that she was afraid of one of her incarcerated brothers who would be soon released from prison, explaining that he had sexually abused her and that she was at risk of self-harm. Serah’s mother denied the abuse claim, and when a social worker called to follow up, Serah’s father claimed Serah was lying and refused to allow the caseworker to speak with other children in the home.

Following these events, Serah reported the abuse to a school counselor at her online homeschool. Child services visited the home to investigate; as soon as they left, Serah’s parents disowned her and had her forcibly admitted to an inpatient mental health facility in Cleveland. Eventually the facility staff transferred Serah to foster care and she began to attend school, where she encountered Athens County Sheriff Sgt. Jimmy Childs, a school resource officer and friend of her parents’. Childs repeatedly asked Serah where she was living, implying that he would report this information to the Bellars, and refused to help Serah after she told him her family members were harassing her. Fearing that neither the police nor child services would protect her from her family, Serah ran away from home in April 2020 with the help of Jerry and Shayna Chadwick. Serah had met Jerry Chadwick through Dove Outreach’s online gaming association in 2018; Chadwick sexually groomed Serah and exchanged nude photos with her. After the Chadwicks helped Serah run away, they took her to Georgia where they sexually abused her, claiming to be in a relationship with her. Meanwhile, Serah was declared an “endangered runaway”.

This “absolute systematic failure” on the part of everyone to help Serah finally came to light on April 26, 2021, Serah’s 18th birthday, when she made a public Facebook post about the abuse she had experienced in the Bellars’ home. Robert and Deborah Bellar were charged with corrupt activity and child endangerment. Josiah Bellar was charged with rape and both he and Jonathan Bellar were charged with gross sexual imposition. The Chadwicks were charged with interfering in custody. Childs was charged with obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.

Date: April 3, 2020
Amesville, Ohio Read More

Brandon Gray, and 9 relatives

Brandon Gray, age 14, was starved to death by his mother, Terra Wells, and several other family members. Brandon’s 12-year-old sister K. was also starved and physically abused. The other eight children in the home were not reported to be abused. All ten children were homeschooled.

Brandon lived with three generations of his family: his grandmother Yvette Charleston, his mother Terra Wells, his uncle and aunts (Melvin Wells, Tamera Dishmon, Tessa Dishmon, Amanda Dishmon, Tabitha Sharp, and Breanna Wells), K. and three other siblings, and 5 cousins. In 2015 when Brandon was 9, he was accused of abusing one of the other children in the home; police investigated but the outcome of the investigation is unknown. Following this incident, Brandon was forced to live locked in a closet in the unheated garage with a mattress, portable toilet, and bleach jug for a urinal. He was fed a bran/corn mixture and V8 and at the time of his death weighed only 60 lbs. At some point K. was also forced to sleep in the garage while the rest of the children slept in beds in bedrooms inside the house. When she was rescued K. was malnourished and had patterned bruising on her body.

The abuse came to light in January 2020 when one of Brandon’s family members called 911 to report he was unresponsive and refused to administer CPR. Wells and her siblings were charged with murder, child abuse, and child neglect; Charleston died before she could be indicted.

Date: January 7, 2020
Bartlett, Tennessee Read More

Girl by Jacqueline Barbour and Jason Carroll

Jacqueline Barbour and Jason Carroll

Nora* (b. 2010) was starved and tortured by her father, Jason Carroll, and her stepmother Jacqueline Barbour. The household also included Nora’s stepbrother and her half-brother. Nora was homeschooled.

Barbour and Carroll isolated Nora from family members; Carroll’s mother R. last saw Nora in person in August 2016. Carroll and Barbour claimed that Nora had “behavioral issues” beginning in February 2017, admitting her to a psychiatric hospital at least four times and obtaining a Valium prescription for her; however, authorities believe that Nora was a victim of medical child abuse and was forced to receive unnecessary care. In 2018, Barbour and Carroll asked Nora’s school to prevent her from purchasing lunch so that they could control her behavior. It is unclear exactly when Nora was withdrawn from school to be homeschooled. Nora reported that Barbour threw her into the snow in her underwear, forced her to do jumping jacks, and threw her into a fan when she was unable to continue. Nora also reported that her brother punched her and that Barbour “preferred” Nora’s brother. Nora was given very little to drink and only received bread and peanut butter for dinner “if she was behaving.” Nora was repeatedly punished by being confined to a clear plastic bucket or tote during the day, and she was forced to sleep there at night, curled in a fetal position. Carroll told R. that Nora was being confined to a bucket, but R. did not see the bin or understand its small size; R. told police “Looking back at all of this, I wish I would have seen the signs a little more clear, but at the time I could not have imagined anything like this would ever happen.” When Nora was rescued, she had injuries to the skin on her lower legs and an enlarged liver consistent with chronic severe malnutrition; she gained 14 lbs. in eight days.

The abuse came to light in January 2020 when Carroll brought Nora to the hospital, claiming that she had mental health issues. Staff noticed her condition and reported the abuse to the authorities. After being placed in a foster home, Nora ate voraciously, did well after being re-enrolled in public school, and did not display the reported behavioral issues. Barbour and Carroll were charged with child cruelty and endangering a minor.

*Nora is a pseudonym.

Date: January 2020
Pomfret, Connecticut Read More

Son of Akemi Cox and Valerio Garcia

Akemi Cox (L) and Valerio Garcia

An 8-year-old boy, W. (b. 2013), was starved, physically abused, and medically neglected by his mother, Akemi Cox, and her fiance Valerio Garcia. W. was homeschooled.

Cox had a social services history dating back to 2002; five of her children had previously been removed from her care. Garcia had a social services history dating back to 2006. The couple last took W. to the doctor in 2014 or 2015 when he was around 2 years old. Between that time and his rescue in February 2021, W. gained a total of seven pounds. Cox and Garcia beat W. with a belt and kept him on a strict meal plan. When he was rescued, he was still the size of a 2-year-old, his belly was distended, and his skin was sagging. W. attended virtual school which, according to journalists, prevented the abuse from being caught earlier.

The abuse came to light when a neighbor spotted W. “climbing in and out of his window at night, searching for food in a dumpster.” Cox and Garcia were charged with child neglect and W. gained 15 lbs. in two months while in foster care.

Date: February 2021
Edmond, Oklahoma Read More

Omera Anna Akinloba

Omera Akinloba

Omera Anna Akinloba, age 7, was starved to death by her parents, Aremo and Anna Akinloba. Omera was homeschooled.

When Omera was around 2 years old, the Akinlobas noted that her behavior changed. They self-diagnosed her with autism, ceased to offer her medical care, and began to limit her to a diet of only french fries. Omera developed a full-body rash approximately a year before her death, but the Akinlobas only gave her over-the-counter treatments, believing it to be eczema. In fact, Omera had “pellagra, a disease caused by low levels of Vitamin B-3.” Though Omera was homeschooled, “no Duval County records showing any enrollment in class or an approved home-education program.” Omera became very ill on April 1, 2018, but the Akinlobas did not seek medical care for her until she became unresponsive on April 12. They took her to the hospital where she was declared dead of “multi-organism bacterial sepsis.”

The Akinlobas were charged with aggravated manslaughter.

Date: April 12, 2018
Jacksonville, Florida Read More

5 Children of Robert and Stephanie Duncan

Robert and Stephanie Duncan

Five children–Noah* (b. 2005), Elijah*, James* (b. 2009), William*, and Ella* (b. 2014)–were imprisoned and tortured by their adoptive parents, Robert and Stephanie Duncan. The children were homeschooled.

The Duncans moved into their home around 2009. They began fostering the children shortly thereafter. Three of the children were half-siblings and the other two were half-siblings. At some point the children were pulled from school to be homeschooled. Around 2014 the children’s adoptions were finalized through a private agency and the abuse began to escalate. The Duncans created a caste system among their children; James was singled out for the most extreme abuse, and the Duncans abused the other two older boys more severely than the two youngest children. The Duncans beat and strangled the children, locked them outside in bad weather, and forced them to exercise as punishment. The older children were kept in individual rooms in the basement with no bedding and alarms on the doors, and the Duncans used security cameras to watch the children and punish them if they did not follow their rules about how to sleep and eat.

James was forced to eat hot peppers, soap, and his own vomit, was deprived of access to a bathroom and then forced to clean up his urine, had bleach dumped over his head, and was fed only oatmeal, carrots, and peanut butter. When he was given less than a bottle of water per day, the Duncans punished him for “stealing” water. He was locked in his bare, unheated concrete basement room for approximately two years before he was rescued; he did not interact with his siblings after Christmas 2019, where the Duncans gave him a letter from Santa saying he was on the naughty list and would not receive any presents. At least three different neighbors called child services to report concerns between 2017 and 2019, but there was no investigation.

The abuse came to light when Stephanie Duncan took James to the emergency room in January 2021. He was hypothermic and covered in bruises; his blood pressure was abnormally low and he had “low potassium levels, an electrolyte disturbance and an excessive amount of sodium.” He nearly died several times while being treated. The Duncans were charged with aggravated assault and child endangerment, among other charges.

*These are pseudonyms.

Date: January 13, 2021
North Annville Township, Pennsylvania Read More