A Salem couple faces a felony charge stemming from the death of their 10-year-old adopted daughter, according to documents filed in circuit court.
Randall L. Abney, 51, and Susan A. Abney, 44, are each charged with one felony count of abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death. Both were incarcerated in the Dent County Jail on a $500,000 bond.
Law enforcement responded at 6:27 p.m. Saturday to an unresponsive child reported at a residence in the 400 block of Dent County Road 4255, according to the case’s probable cause statement. Upon arrival, the statement says a 10-year-old girl was discovered emaciated and taken to Salem Memorial District Hospital for emergency treatment. There, she was pronounced deceased at 7:41 p.m. Oct. 3.
The statement says a visual inspection of the child’s body by a detective with the Dent County Sheriff’s Office found her bones were protruding, she was covered in bruises and she “appeared like a Holocaust victim.” It details the Dent County Coroner’s Office determined the child’s body weighed 39.8 pounds at death when inside a body bag with a blanket and attached medical equipment. A SMDH physician is also cited as determining the child had a blood sugar level of 10 and was so dehydrated a blood sample couldn’t be drawn.
The statement says Randall and Susan Abney identified themselves as the child’s legal guardians and told investigators they adopted her in 2013. They are quoted in the statement to say their daughter was a homeschooled typical child who hadn’t eaten much over the previous week. Susan Abney said 911 was called Saturday after her daughter fell over after saying she didn’t feel well.
The statement says a consent search of the Abney residence located a child lock on the home’s refrigerator and food items kept in kitchen cupboards out of a child’s reach. The child’s room was found to consist of a single mattress on the floor, standing lamp and basket of clothing. The lock on the doorknob leading into the room was also reversed so its lock faced out to the hallway. An audible alarm was further found at the top of the door.
In the main bedroom used by Randall and Susan Abney, the statement says dresser drawers were found filled with chocolate brownies, candy, cookies and snack bars.
During an interview with a detective at the sheriff’s office, Randall Abney is quoted in the statement as claiming the child had chosen not to eat for more than a week and had done so in the past before eating again. He is also quoted as claiming the child was not regularly locked in her room.
In her interview, Susan Abney is quoted in the statement to say Randall had turned the lock around in the child’s room and that she was regularly locked in because a firearm was kept in the house. Susan Abney could also not account for why her daughter didn’t receive medical treatment and is also quoted to say she and Randall were responsible for the child’s death.
The above information is just a mere accusation, and is not evidence of guilt. Evidence in support of any charge must be presented before a court of competent jurisdiction whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.