Two adults are in jail after officials say they forced a child to sleep in a small laundry room every night and spend time in the room during the day as punishment, according to investigators.
Detectives with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office were told on Aug. 25 that two people, Ashley Groover and Norris Groover, were neglecting a 6-year-old child in their care.
Ashley Groover, with the consent of Norris Groover, locked the child in a small laundry room as punishment or because the child was “demon possessed,” according to the sheriff’s office. The child was “always required” to sleep in the room as well.
Other children in the home told investigators the 6-year-old was forced to sleep alone on the laundry room floor without a blanket or pillow. The other children would bring the child food and water. A dog was also caged in the room with the child, who was scared of dogs, others in the home told the sheriff’s office. The child was rarely allowed to play outside.
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One sibling told officials the 6-year-old gets locked in the room when they “get off the school bus in the day time.” A sibling also told the sheriff’s office that they could hear the 6-year-old talking and pretending to have tea parties.
The other children in the home were taught to mistreat the 6-year-old, but one child said they would sneak things such as toys or candy into the laundry room, according to the sheriff’s office.
Ashley Groover and Norris Groover denied the allegations when detectives spoke with them in November.
In January, people who had visited the home on occasion told officials the 6-year-old was excluded from family photos and visitors weren’t allowed to see the child. It was in June 2017 that adults began noticing the child was not around and asked where the child was. Ashley Groover and Norris Groover would provide answers such as the child had soiled his/her clothes, or was in the bathtub or asleep, according to the sheriff’s office.
Detectives obtained arrest warrants, charging Ashley Groover and Norris Groover with felony child abuse with infliction of physical and mental injury, and arrested them Thursday.
The 6-year-old and five other children were removed from the home, according to the sheriff’s office.