The couple took good care of their other two children while Ethan was left to starve.
Trigger warning: Details of child abuse
A child thinking about death is the last thing you want to hear or read about. But this story isn't about death, it's about survival. In this story too, a 14-year-old had no option but to think of the end to get away from his sufferings, but he survived to tell his horrific tale.
Ethan Kelly was just a teen when he thought death would be better than the torture he suffered through the hands of his adoptive parents. They starved him and kept him in the basement of their home in Alabama, while they went on with their lives right above him.
He weighed only 55 pounds when he was hospitalized in 2016, suffering from an acute respiratory shock, and was unable to speak, reported AL.com. On Thursday, November 12, 2020, he faced his abusers in the court for the first time as he gave details leading to the day he was hospitalized.
Ethan, now 18-years-old and a senior at Jefferson County high school revealed that his adoptive parents, Richard and Cynthia Kelly, kept him in such destitute conditions that he didn't wish to stay alive anymore. During the hearing, he said, "I cried every night and prayed for Jesus to end it all." He added, "I'm not who I used to be. I'm not even who I was supposed to be. I lived the story of Cinderella with no happy ending."
According to The Sun, the cruel couple kept Ethan in a filthy concrete basement for 23 hours a day. The room had nothing for the boy to survive, not even a bed. It was only when Richard took him to the Shelby Baptist Medical Center, in 2016, that the authorities became aware of the boy's pitiful condition. He was later airlifted to Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.
He was not only severely malnourished but was also dehydrated, and suffering from hypothermia and hypothyroidism. He was in shock too. Ethan was placed on a ventilator for a week, which alerted the doctors that something was really wrong at the boy's home for him to be like this. They immediately contacted child services and the Helena police department. Almost on the verge of dying, the boy miraculously survived.
The couple apparently had two more kids staying with them, Tamara and Jacob, along with a dog, and all were taken well care of, reported AL.com. Even a birthday party was thrown for the dog while Ethan was suffering in the basement. Helene police Detective Sean Boczar said, "It all changed when I saw Ethan's bedroom." He added, "I had to second guess myself that someone was actually living in that room."
Starved teen locked in Helena basement gives horrifying testimony at parent's sentencinghttps://t.co/pXzzdQIQu9— ABC 33/40 News (@abc3340) November 14, 2020
He said that the room had two windows that didn't open and was covered with dirt-stained curtains. There was a box spring in the room but no mattress. It also had two locks with an alarm outside the door. Ethan reportedly was locked in that room from 11 pm till morning with a supervised visit to the bathroom. Richard and Cynthia claimed that Ethan was being homeschooled, however, there's no proof.
Ethan had a brother, Eddie, who was adopted by the Kellys along with Ethan in 2007 but was sent away within a year by the couple. They claimed that Eddie had behavioral issues that they could not deal with. They gave the same reason for locking up Ethan in the basement for 23 hours a day.
They also claimed that their dog didn't like Ethan, who was destructive by nature, as per ABC33/40 News. According to them, the boy used to break everything and that was the reason the officers found his room empty. The barking of the dog was also the reason they kept him in a room, all alone. Both Richard and Cynthia insisted that they fed Ethan twice a day but restricted anything more than that because he would "eat too much."
In the testimony that went on for seven hours, Ethan revealed that he was often strapped to a chair with cables. Some of the things were so disheartening that the lead police investigator couldn't help but break down into tears.
The Kellys, who had pleaded guilty back in 2019 to a reduced charge, agreed to a plea deal and so the Shelby County Circuit Judge William H Bostick could only sentence them to a maximum of 10 years with two years behind bars. However, he said that he wanted to give them a longer sentence for their heartless deed.
This is one among the worst cases and testimony I've covered in my 34 years of journalism: ‘Cinderella with no happy ending’: Starved Alabama teen locked in basement shares horrifying testimony https://t.co/LWweGSN7OJ— carol robinson (@RobinsonCarol) November 13, 2020
Bostick said, "Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, it was in your best interest to enter a plea to this charge because if I had the authority, I would sentence you to a lot more than a 10-year split-two sentence." He added, "It would be somewhere in the realm of 20 years to life if I weren't constrained by the law."
It's mandatory for the Kellys to serve a minimum of two years behind bars followed by three years of supervised probation. They are also permanently banned from fostering or adopting any child.