4-year-old boy was likely caged, investigators say

4-year-old boy was likely caged, investigators say

STONE COUNTY, Mo. — Four people have been arrested and charged with abuse and endangerment after an investigation surrounding a 4-year-old Missouri boy who was found unresponsive last month.

Dessa A. Barton, 26; William McLendon, 26; Katherine Kost, 53 and Richard A. Hilliker, 52, have each been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and abuse or neglect of a child.

According to the Stone County Sheriff’s Office, authorities found the boy unresponsive after responding to a 911 call on Nov. 6 in which the caller reported the child as unconscious.

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The boy was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and later airlifted to another facility in Kansas City in critical condition, according to a news release.

Medical personnel told investigators the boy suffered various injuries that were consistent with physical abuse as well as extreme malnutrition.

According to KTVI, Barton, the boy’s mother, told police the boy’s injuries were a result of self-harm, claiming he scratched his own arms and nose and banged his head into things. Medical professionals told authorities the location of some of the injuries were inconsistent with the possibility of self-harm.

When asked if she had attempted to get the boy treatment for his injuries and behavior, Barton told detectives she had not.

Investigators returned to the child’s home where he lived with the four adults on Nov. 25 and found a wooden crate constructed of pallets. Detectives said they believe the crate was used to cage the victim for extended periods of time.

The four adults remain jailed with bond set at $50,000 each.

According to Sheriff Doug Rader, the boy is in stable condition, KTVI reported.