Deputies in Georgia searched for 20 hours — day and night — before locating the disabled 18-year-old who had disappeared.
Her parents reported her missing June 23, hours after they said she walked into the woods and didn’t come back. She turned up 15 miles from home at a residence in Nelson, Georgia, having wandered all night, deputies said. Deputies dressed the teenager in new clothes and fed her, and then took her to be evaluated, according to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.
But it was another search — that of her parents’ home — that revealed evidence suggesting why the teenager ran away in the first place, deputies said.
Neil Farrell, 56, and Janet Farrell, 54, disciplined the disabled 18-year-old in cruel ways, deputies said. Their daughter was confined to her bedroom routinely — sometimes for days on end, and other times for months. There was a lock on the door to keep her from getting out, according to the sheriff’s office.
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The couple had active adult guardianship over the 18-year-old, who has behavioral issues, deputies said.
The parents gave their daughter “very limited opportunities” to use the bathroom, deputies said. At least once, she had to endure a “grounding period” for needing to use the restroom outside the times prescribed by her parents — and that meant she was given a bucket to use in her sparsely furnished bedroom, deputies said. The parents employed at least one form of punishment — beating the soles of her feet — that wouldn’t result in visible marks on their daughter, the sheriff’s office said.
The investigation also revealed the daughter had few if any personal belongings inside the room, deputies said.
While the teenager was locked in the room, the parents could easily keep tabs on her: Video and audio surveillance equipment was installed “to monitor all her activity,” the sheriff’s office said.
Both parents were arrested June 24, according to jail records. They are being held at the Pickens County Adult Detention Center and are scheduled to appear in court for a bond hearing on Thursday at 2 p.m., deputies said.
Authorities have now moved the adult daughter to “a safe environment where she could begin receiving aid and assistance,” the sheriff’s office said.
The parents face a litany of charges, including exploitation and intimidation of a disabled adult, false imprisonment and first-degree cruelty to children, according to the sheriff’s office.
Investigation into the incident continues, deputies said.