5-year-old in neglect case got in trouble for stealing food, documents say

Johnathan Parsley, left. AshLeigh Peach, right. (Provided Photo/Tipton Police Department)

TIPTON, Ind. (WISH) — Siblings inside the home of a Tipton pair charged with the neglect of a 5-year-old boy told investigators he often got in trouble for stealing food and sometimes was so hungry he ate animal excrement.

Tipton police on Thursday arrested Johnathan Parsley, 28, and AshLeigh Peach, 30. Each faces a preliminary felony charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury. The felony is punishable by three to 16 years in prison. The 5-year-old was one of seven children living in the house with Parsley and Peach, police said.

An anonymous tip that the 5-year-old, Parsley’s son, “looks like a skeleton,” along with photos of the boy, drew Tipton County Department of Child Services to the home in the 700 block of Berryman Pike, court documents released Friday said. The Child Services staff visited June 6 and said the boy, wearing a diaper, appeared to be malnourished and had bruises, scratches, scrapes and sores. The department removed seven children from the home.

The boy was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis, where he was found to weight about 30 pounds, the documents said. Medical staff told police the boy was in the 1.9 percentile for weight of children his age.

At the hospital, the 5-year-old told authorities he was locked in his bedroom and his father had cameras and alarms in the house to monitor the boy because he “steals” food, the documents said.

“He stated that he also has to urinate and defecate in the diaper because he isn’t allowed to leave his upstairs bedroom,” the documents said.

The seven children shared two rooms — one fitted with a door alarm and the other with a padlock system. Police said the door alarm was used to confine the 5-year-old for extended periods.

Parsley and Peach told investigators the boy “eats all the time” and “hoards food,” the documents said. Both denied the boy was malnourished and said they had not sought medical treatment for the child.

The father’s other three children, among the seven living in the home, said the 5-year-old “always is in trouble because he ‘steals’ blankets and food,” the documents said. The three siblings said the 5-year-old did not get a blanket to sleep with because he has “peed on them.” Also, while the three children slept on a bed or couch in the same upstairs bedroom, the 5-year-old had to sleep on the floor “because he is always in trouble.”

One of the three siblings told investigators their 5-year-old brother sometimes ate “guinea pig and cat poop” because he was so hungry, the documents said. Prior to his removal, the children told investigators, the 5-year-old had not eaten for two days.

No court dates have been set, according to online court documents.

The Department of Child Services believes “all Hoosiers are mandatory reporters,” and if anyone suspects a child is being abused or neglected, they should report it to the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-800-5556. Trained specialists answer the 24-hour hotline, and callers can remain anonymous.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV