‘Human skeleton’ 7-year-old found nearly starved, was forced to eat bugs

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Mercer County, Penn. (CNN) – A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy beaten for sneaking food was nearly starved and weighed only 25 pounds when he arrived at a hospital, authorities said. The boy sometimes ate insects he caught on his porch.

The boy’s mother, Mary Rader, 28, and his grandparents, Dennis and Deana Beighley, turned themselves in at the Mercer County District Attorney’s office Wednesday and were charged with aggravated assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy, according to court documents.

The Sharon Herald reported Saturday that child welfare authorities took the Greenville boy to a hospital last month after he was found looking like a human skeleton.

“The child was starved,” Dr. Jennifer Wolford of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Child Advocacy Center was quoted as saying in a criminal complaint. She described the boy as “the worst case of medical neglect that I have ever seen in my seven years as a pediatrician.”

The unidentified boy lived with his mother and grandparents and three siblings — two sisters, ages 4 and 11, and a 9-year-old brother, the paper reported.

The two girls appeared healthy, the criminal complaint said. The brother was underweight though not as severely as the victim.

Since June 6, hospital officials said the boy has gained 20 pounds, The Herald reported.

“The most important medicine used to treat him at the hospital was food,” Wolford said in the complaint. “He was within a month of having a major cardiac event that he probably would not have recovered from . … It is impossible to me that this severe neglect and active abuse was not visible. He was being starved in his own home around others of normal weight.”

Rader and the Beighleys turned themselves into authorities with attorney James Stranahan, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Saturday.

According the complaint, Rader was home-schooling the victim. The only time he was allowed outside was to be on the back porch, where he sometimes fed on bugs. The boy was only given small portions of tuna fish and eggs.

The victim was often beaten with a belt, sometimes for sneaking bread and peanut butter without permission, the complaint said. He also was punished with ice-cold showers.

The mother and grandparents — who were released on bond — will appear before District Judge Brian Arthur on July 30.

The children have been placed in the care of child welfare authorities.


  • Nancy Minter

    Jésus’s heart must be surly hurting to know people can be So crule to his Little children.

    • karen

      Yes I was thinking the same thing too.. that Jesus must be crying at this cruelty.. It is horrific, and I pray that this boy will be healed of all this pain and suffering and that God will turn this around for him and he will have a great life with new parents who will love him so much.

  • Kenneth Gurganus

    I feel like Lisa, no bond for this, they will probably move somewhere else and never get court date until caught. Why do humans do this kind of thing? We need to go back with, ”eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”.


    Unbelievable~ the mother and both grandparents, ignorant. If I could I would feed them the exact same thing and the same amount while they do their time in jail and bugs for dessert. Poor little boy and how could the other children not tell someone, I just don’t understand.

  • willy

    of corse they get bond thats how it works everyone gets to gain a little. now if they didnt have money they would be criminels but they hired a lawyer they give him money he pays everyone off and we live happily ever after

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