Oklahoma 10-year-old looked like 'Auschwitz prisoner' after months of horrific abuse by father and his partner

Oklahoma 10-year-old looked like 'Auschwitz prisoner' after months of horrific abuse by father and his partner
Billy James Menees and Ashley Schardein (Pittsburg County Courthouse)

MCALESTER, OKLAHOMA: Two Oklahoma parents have been arrested and charged after they subjected a 10-year-old girl to such horrific abuse, that she was described looking like she "just got out of Auschwitz." Ashley Dawn Marie Schardeni, 24, and Billy James Menees, 27, both of McAlester, Oklahoma, were charged this past Tuesday, May 19, with several counts related to the alleged child abuse, with court documents obtained by the McAlester News-Capital detailing the torture which the victim had to endure. The couple was accused of torturing the girl, Menees' daughter, "by excessively punishing her with emotional and verbal abuse, physical abuse, including spanking," and "tying her hands and feet for long periods."

The documents said they shaved her head, did not allow her to use the restroom, forced her to sleep on a concrete floor with no pillows, no blanket, and intentionally keeping it cold in the room. They allegedly restricted her diet to oatmeal, spinach, and water, and forced her to stand up for painfully long periods during the day, sometimes in wet clothing under a cold fan as well. Authorities also alleged they struck the young girl with a large wooden paddle, wooden spoon, a sock stuffed with a bar of soap, a belt, and smashed her head into a wall.

Their arrest was not without drama. Numerous officers and detectives from the McAlester Police Department surrounded the office of local attorneys Brecken Wagner and Blake Lynch with warrants for arrest after an agreement for a self-surrender was not upheld. The couple was subsequently charged together with child abuse by torture, kidnapping, and four counts of child abuse, according to court documents. Individually, Schardeni was charged with three counts of child abuse and one count of enabling child abuse, while Menees was charged with three counts of enabling child abuse and one count of child abuse.

Their first court appearance the same day was eventful as well. Lynch accused the District 18 Assistant District Attorney's Office of calling a Tulsa news station before calling his office, a charge Assistant DA Michon Hastings-Hughes denied. "It’s about a little girl who was not just abused once or twice but has been beaten to a pulp for at least a month, if not more," he said. "She was tortured and made to look like she just got out of Auschwitz."

Wagner, however, argued that the couple was not a danger to the public since the children at their house were now in the custody of the Department of Human Services. In response, Hastings-Hughes read a text message between the accused and a Facebook post from Schardein to Pittsburg County Associate District Judge Tim Mills and said the woman would be seeking visitation with the children “and if she’s not in prison, DHS will probably give it to her."

This was followed by the defense and prosecutors loudly arguing over each other, and Mills ordering them to stop and sit down. Mills ultimately set a $100,000 bond for each defendant though not before Schardeni, who is seven-months-pregnant, had to be transported to the McAlester Regional Health Center after she went into labor during the court appearance.

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