A Macy, Nebraska, couple were sentenced to six years in prison Friday for multiple counts of intentional child abuse against their foster child, including keeping the 9-year-old locked in their basement.
In September 2018, officers responded to the home of Charles Neil Parker, 39, and Krista Parker, 36, after receiving a report from a party guest of the couple that a child was locked in the basement, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly.
Officers found the couple’s foster child locked in a utility room in the basement, the door secured with an eyehook latch on the outside and a contact alarm that sounded when the door was opened.
The room had a concrete floor, no windows and no ventilation. The child had two urine-soaked blankets on the floor to sleep on, and the floor and walls were soiled with urine and feces. Two toys, an empty chip bag and an empty soda bottle were also inside the room. A wall had stick figure drawings and tally marks, and the door had scratch marks on the inside.
Officers found Krista Parker intoxicated and asleep in another room of the house. During an interview the next day, she first said that the child must have wandered into the room and gotten locked in by mistake but later admitted to locking the child in the room because she wanted to “have one night of fun” after a stressful week at work, according to the press release. She had sent her biological children to their grandmother’s house for the night.
Charles Neil Parker could not be found the night police arrived, but in a subsequent interview, he admitted that they locked the child in the room sometimes because of his behavior, according to the press release.
The child, who has cognitive delays and is thought to be on the autism spectrum, reported that he always slept and ate in the room and wasn’t able to leave to use the bathroom.
The victim was identified as a foster child placed in the Parkers’ care by Omaha Tribe Children and Family Services. At the time, Krista Parker worked for the agency as a case aid.
U.S. District Judge Robert F. Rossiter Jr. sentenced the couple to six years in prison. After they are released from prison, they will each serve an 18-month term of supervised release.
Rossiter described the Parkers’ treatment of their foster child as “horrible” and “unforgiveable.”
Kelly said, “Today justice was done for one of the most vulnerable victims — a child placed with a couple who saw an opportunity to make money while continuing to exploit a child who was unable to cry out for help.”
The case was investigated by Omaha Nation Law Enforcement Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.