Ohio teen flees ‘cult’ family’s alleged sexual abuse, says they want her to mate with siblings for apocalypse
ATHENS COUNTY, OHIO: An Ohio couple along with two of their 19 children have been charged after their missing daughter who escaped the family's alleged abuse came forward with a series of accusations.
Robert Bellar, 54, and his 49-year-old wife Deborah Kellar are facing charges relating to an ongoing sexual abuse investigation involving their own children. Two of their sons, Jonathan Levi Bellar, 26, and Josiah Bellar, 24, have also been charged in the probe, Athens News reported.
The charges came after one of their daughters said she was forced to attend a "cult" like church run by her uncle, self-proclaimed minister James Bellar, who would encourage the siblings to have children with one another to prepare for the "apocalypse."
"All the kids would have to go, whether they wanted to or not— even if you were sick, you had to go, it didn’t matter," Serah Bellar told The Athens Messenger. "Anytime he’d say anything, I’d just kind of repeat it in my head, like, how messed up it kind of sounded. He’d always talk about the end of the world and how you’d reproduce with your siblings."
How Serah Bellar escaped a life of abuse
Few questioned Serah's disappearance when she ran away from her Amesville home in April 2020. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office labeled the then-16-year-old an “endangered runaway” in its database of missing people. While some members of her enormous family discussed her absence in private, they were mostly silent about it in public.
In May 2018, Serah was reportedly trying to run away from home when she was stopped by an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer on US Route 50. According to the prosecutor’s office’s characterization of an incident report, she told the authorities she was scared of one of her three incarcerated brothers after he had sexually and mentally abused her for years. However, her mother Deborah denied any knowledge of abuse when she arrived at the scene.
Later that year, a child services caseworker called the Bellar residence to inquire about Serah’s continuing trauma of being sexually abused. The professional noted to the family that she was displaying signs of self-harm and was scared of a brother's imminent release from prison. However, her father denied she was suicidal and said she was lying about self-harming. According to Athens News, he wouldn't allow the caseworker to interact with other children at the home. When the caseworker reached out to the mother, she also claimed her daughter was lying about the abuse and that her claims had been "medically proven" to be false.
Serah later revealed in an interview that she came to be placed in foster care in 2018 after she was admitted into psychiatric care by her parents when she tried to report the abuse to a school counselor. According to her, child authorities showed up at the home after the report was filed. Caseworkers couldn't locate her parents at the home, so they urged father Robert to return as soon as possible.
Once the caseworkers left around 5 pm, Robert took Serah to a fire station where he volunteered. He kept her there until midnight and later took her to OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital. “He told me to get out of the car and I got out, and I saw Debbie’s van there as well,” Serah said. “They asked me if I knew why I was there and I said ‘no, I didn’t at all.’ Apparently, I was under a suicide watch.”
According to Serah, her mother came to visit on her second day at the facility. “She gave me some papers, and she wouldn’t allow me to read them,” Serah said. “She wouldn’t let me read over it and made me sign them, and that night, around 11, 11:30, some other people came in, I was put into an ambulance.”
Serah was subsequently admitted to Windsor-Laurelwood, an in-patient mental health facility in the Cleveland area. She spent the next two weeks there before her mother called to disown her, claiming she would be in the hospital forever. Staff at the institution asked Serah after a point if she would like to be placed in the foster care system. The answer was a resounding yes.
According to Athens News, Serah had remained in touch with a man named Jerry Chadwick, whom she reportedly met in 2018 while playing the online video game 'Rising World' with other members of the Bellar family. At some point, members cut Chadwick off from playing after he started noticing oddities about the family. However, he maintained contact with Serah over the years through alternative methods and the two even exchanged nude photos while she was a minor, per court records.
In 2020, Chadwick arranged for Serah to be brought from Ohio to his home in Georgia down south to live with him and his wife Shayna Chadwick. But after living with the Chadwicks for a fortnight, the couple reportedly began a "sexual relationship" with Serah, who was 17 at the time. According to court documents, the relationship continued until their May 5, 2021, arrests.
This was around the time Serah was interviewed in Georgia by Athens County Prosecutor's Office Chief Investigator Jay Barrett, who traveled down south after she resurfaced online in a pseudonymous Facebook post. She said she was safe but was waiting to turn 18 so she could come forward publicly.
According to Captain Jordan Kight of the Toombs County Sheriff's Office, the Chadwicks were charged with interference with custody -- a felony under Georgia law -- and are currently remanded in custody. The couple is reportedly also being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
That said, it is unclear where Serah is residing today. Authorities, however, have assured she is in safe hands.