A Salem couple facing felony charges in connection to the death of their adopted 10-year-old daughter are due for arraignment in circuit court.
Randall L. Abney, 51, and Susan A. Abney, 44, waived their right to a preliminary hearing this week. Both are charged with abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death and second-degree felony murder. Each remain incarcerated in the Dent County Jail on a $500,000 bond.
The Abney’s daughter, Josie Ann Abney, was declared deceased Oct. 3, 2020, at Salem Memorial District Hospital. A subsequent law enforcement investigation determined the 10-year-old child had been starved and was dehydrated prior to her death. Her adopted parents were afterward arrested for being allegedly responsible for the death. A search of their house by law enforcement determined the home’s refrigerator was locked, food kept in cupboards out of the child’s reach and the doorknob leading into the child’s room was reversed so its lock faced out to the hallway. An audible alarm was further found at the top of that door.
On Jan. 21, the results of the 10-year-old’s autopsy were released to The Salem News by the Dent County Coroner’s Office. Coroner Ben Pursifull reported the investigation was conducted by the Boone County Medical Examiner’s Office. Results were received Jan. 19.
The autopsy ruled Abney’s cause of death as severe cachexia and protein calorie malnutrition. It details Abney had one milliliter of fluid in her stomach at the time of the autopsy. No hard stool was found in her intestines. The presence of liquid stool did indicate she had eaten within the last 24 hours of her life.
Abney weighed 34 pounds at the time of death. Pursifull said a child of her age and height would normally weigh 70 to 80 pounds. Abney also had a very low glucose level at the time of her death. She had a blood sugar count of 11 when autopsied. Pursifull said a healthy blood sugar level is between 80 and 120.
The autopsy also indicated there was evidence of multiple injuries in multiple areas of Abney’s body. They include 14 head contusions, greater than 18 contusions to her back and seven other points of injury to her body of undetermined origin.
Toxicology testing determined no drugs were in Abney’s system at the time of her death.
The manner of Abney’s death was ruled as homicide. Pursifull told The Salem News the circumstances detailed in the autopsy are not consistent with those of a natural death or eating disorder suffered by someone of Abney’s age.