Emaciated children found 'near death' in locked room with little food, no heat, police say

Police and child-welfare investigators in Pennsylvania said three emaciated young children were locked inside a room each night with no heat and little food.

A Halifax Township couple have been charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment and related offenses.

Joshua and Brandi Weyant are jailed on $1 million bail. They are the legal guardians of the children, who are 4, 5 and 6 years old. The district attorney said the children were underweight and malnourished. Doctors told investigators that one of the girls was about a week away from dying.

“They were locked in a room with no heat source,” said Ed Marsico, Dauphin County district attorney. “They were given no food, we believe, for the last few months. Their weight was just skin and bone.”

WPXI.com learned that when social workers went to the home, they found the three children confined to one room of the home with no furniture, three cots and no toys.

The owner of the home, Sheila Herb, said she had no idea what was going on.

Herb showed reporters the room she was told the children were locked in. She said she was told there was mold, lice and bed bugs in the room.

The children told police that they had to pound on the wall to get someone to take them to the bathroom. If nobody came, they were forced to defecate on the floor.

When they were rescued by police, they were covered in dirt, urine and human waste.

"The pictures in this case were terrible,” Marisco said. “To see these children, you knew that they were near death when you see the pictures.”

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Gettle indicated that money was not the issue.

>> Read more trending stories

“The parents’ rooms and other rooms has more than sufficient clothing, food and heat,” Gettle said. “Animals were well-fed. The adults were well-fed.”

Police said Brandi Weyant blamed her husband for the abuse. Court documents said Joshua Weyant denied abusing the children but said he didn't want them "overfed."

Both the homeowner and neighbors said they wish they would have known what was going on so they could’ve helped.

“Them little kids, why didn’t they just give them up instead of torturing them?” asked neighbor Fred Anderson.

Two of the children have been placed in foster care with a provider who is a nurse. The third child is still in the hospital but will later join the other two children. Gettle said that child will have ongoing health issues.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author