A southwest Ohio couple kept their 12-year-old daughter imprisoned in a basement for nearly a month, bound, unbathed and starved until her ribs were clearly visible through her skin, authorities said.
Middletown police discovered the sunken-eyed child on July 3 after an anonymous tip led them to the makeshift dungeon that Shawn Blackston, 40, and Joanna Blackston, 36, had created to "punish" the her.
The girl was Joanna's step-daughter. Five other children lived at the home, the Middletown Journal reported.
Located at the bottom of a flight of grubby steps at the couple's ramshackle home, the unfinished basement's windows were boarded up or covered by sheets, while the floor was strewn with garbage. A single, dingy light bulb hung from the ceiling near a grime-covered mattress that served as the girl's bed.
The girl told investigators her stepmother bound her wrists with duct tape and also put tape over her mouth and eyes, the newspaper reported.
She was fed only cereal and hadn't brushed her teeth in six months because her parents had taken away her toothbrush as punishment, she told investigators.
The five other children lived in regular rooms, investigators said, and the little girl was only able to speak to them through the floorboards or during brief bathroom breaks.
When police found the girl, she had scars on her back and legs and bruises from what they said was previous abuse. Investigators said she had been locked in the basement since June 18, about a month after her last day of sixth grade.
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