In an incident that has shocked the whole country earlier this month, an 8-year-old girl, reportedly starved by her parents, was forced to take the drastic measure of escaping from a second-story window, teddy bear in hand, to find sustenance among strangers, authorities have revealed.
The parents, identified as R. Hardman and E. Hardman, both aged 33, have been arrested and are facing charges of child neglect after their young daughter managed to break free from their residence earlier this month, according to local media outlet WOWK.
The child, found barefoot and in apparent distress, made her way to a nearby Family Dollar store shortly before midnight earlier this month.
According to the details outlined in a criminal complaint, she informed employees at the establishment that she had not been provided with food for several days, a claim that sends chills down the spine of anyone with at least a bit of compassion.
The Family Dollar employee who was present at the time, recounted the harrowing scene with palpable emotion.
“The little girl, she came through the store, just walked up to us … And said, ‘I’m hungry. My mom and dad don’t want me no more. Do you have anything I can eat?,’” she said.
It has come to light that the child was not only deprived of nourishment but also subjected to harsh and frequent lockdowns by her own parents, according to the legal complaint filed in this appalling case.
Another employee at the Family Dollar store where the child sought refuge, provided a heartfelt perspective on the incident, expressing her devastation as a parent herself.
“Me having kids of my own, it just broke my heart her saying she was hungry and haven’t ate,” said the second Family Dollar employe who was working when the girl entered the establishment. “No little girl should ever feel like she’s not wanted. No kid, for that matter.”
Upon arrival at the scene, law enforcement officers were confronted with a startling revelation: the young girl disclosed that she had been compelled to make her escape by jumping from a second-story window, a desperate act born from the alleged refusal of her parents to allow her downstairs and provide food.
The girl’s testament further revealed a pattern of cruel punishment meted out by her parents, who would purportedly lock her in her room for durations extending up to a week, leaving her without food. This claim underscores a deeply unsettling domestic environment, one that defies basic human compassion.
A search conducted at the family’s residence by authorities brought forth additional disturbing details. Despite the child’s starvation, the complaint noted that there was ample “food in the cupboards, food pantry, refrigerator, and freezer for the entire family,” all of it unexpired. The discovery adds an additional layer of cold calculation to the parents’ actions.
The investigation conducted by the responding law enforcement employees revealed drug paraphernalia on the property, hinting at a broader dysfunction within the household that may have contributed to the abusive behavior.
In an immediate response to the grim circumstances, Child Protective Services took custody of the girl and three other children from the residence.