Georgia teen was starved and kept in a dog cage for months before she was buried in family's backyard
A 14-year-old Georgia girl who was found buried in her family's backyard next to her brother — who had been missing for more than two years — was allegedly beaten, starved, and kept confined in a tiny dog cage during the final months of her life, the Effingham County Superior Court heard on Tuesday.
A press release by the Effingham County Sheriff's Office reported that deputies received a tip about Mary Crocker's whereabouts on December 19.
Deputies dispatched to a residence in the 400 block of Rosebud Place, Guyton, which was Mary's home, searched the grounds after becoming suspicious of her family and found two bodies buried just inside the woodline: that of Mary and her 14-year-old brother, Elwyn Crocker Jr, who had been missing since November 2016.
Mary's father, 50-year-old Elwyn Crocker Sr., his wife, 33-year-old Candice Crocker, his brother-in-law, 31-year-old Mark Wright, his mother-in-law, 50-year-old Kim Wright, and Wright's boyfriend, 55-year-old Roy Anthony Prater, were all subsequently arrested and charged with felony murder and cruelty to children in connection to the death of Mary and her brother.
According to WSBTV, a detective testified during their hearing and detailed the abuse inflicted on Mary. The detective said because of her confinement, Mary kept losing weight and her body contorted, conforming to the bars of the cage until her joints became swollen. A picture taken of the girl in front of the cage, which also reportedly served as her bedroom, showed her nude and gaunt, almost close to death.
Sheriff's investigator Abby Brown said all five of the accused participated in the abuse of the 14-year-old, which included beatings, starvations, and feeding her food spiked with "pungent substances" with the aim that she would not consume it. She said the abuse was handed out as punishments when the girl misbehaved, failing to complete chores, stealing food, and even refusing to exercise.
The Daily Mail reported that a number of cases of potential abuse towards children had been filed against the Crockers at the Georgia Department of Family and Children services even before the deaths of Mary and her brother.
This saw Crocker Sr. and Candice Crocker take mandatory counseling and parenting classes in both 2012 and 2013.
This week's hearing ended with two of the five suspects, Crocker Sr. and Wright, being denied bond and having their cases turned over to a grand jury. Candice Crocker, Kim Wright, and Roy Anthony Prater remain jailed without bond.
The Crockers' youngest child, an 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, who Crocker Sr. was allegedly keeping away from his biological mother to benefit from disability cheques, was placed in foster care following the arrest of his father and stepmother.