An 8-year-old girl who was allegedly starved by her parents jumped out a second-story window clutching her teddy bear — and then begged strangers for food, authorities said.
The little girl’s parents Ryan Keith Hardman and Ellio M. Hardman, both 33, were slapped with neglect of a child charges after their daughter escaped their home in Arnoldsburg, West Virginia earlier this month, WOWK reported.
The child, who was barefoot at the time, had walked into a nearby Family Dollar on July 7 at 10.30 p.m. and told employees she hadn’t eaten in several days, according to a criminal complaint.
“The little girl she came through the store, just walked up to us … And said, ‘I’m hungry. My mom and dad don’t want me no more. Do you have anything I can eat?’,” Kelly Hutchinson, a Family Dollar employee, said.
She said the last thing she had eaten was a sandwich that had been given to her by a sibling three days earlier, according to the complaint.
“Me having kids of my own, it just broke my heart her saying she was hungry and haven’t ate,” another employee, Sandra Knicley, said. “No little girl should ever feel like she’s not wanted. No kid for that matter.”
When officers arrived on the scene, the starving girl said she was forced to jump out of the second-story window because her parents allegedly wouldn’t let her come downstairs.
She also alleged her parents would often punish her by locking in her room for up to a week without food.
A subsequent search of the family’s home uncovered “food in the cupboards, food pantry, refrigerator and freezer for the entire family,” the complaint said, adding that none of the food was expired.
Authorities also allegedly found drug paraphernalia at the property.
The girl and three other children were immediately taken in by Child Protective Services.
Their parents are each being held on a $100,000 cash only bond.
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