A 6-year-old Illinois boy died last week after suffering severe starvation and neglect from his father and stepmother, authorities said. He reportedly weighed only 17 pounds when he died.
According to police, the boy’s father, Michael Roberts, and the boy’s stepmother, Georgena Roberts, both 42 years old, deprived the boy and another child of food “as a form of punishment.”
On Friday night, police responded to a call from a hospital in the southern Illinois community of Jerseyville regarding a dead child who had been brought to the hospital by his father, according to the Jersey County state’s attorney’s office.
According to the criminal complaint, Georgena and Michael Roberts “knowingly and intentionally caused (the boy) to become extremely malnourished, leaving the said 6-year-old child … to starve to death.” The complaint details allegations that the couple "withheld food and nourishment on a regular and consistent basis” beginning around December 2015.
The preliminary autopsy results indicate that the cause of death was “extreme malnourishment.” Toxicology and other tests are pending, The Associated Press reported.
The couple is also facing a felony count of child endangerment and a misdemeanor count of child endangerment for their treatment of their 6-year-old son. The judge set their bail at $500,000 each, so they remained in custody Tuesday.
Police say the boy had three siblings and two step-siblings who lived with him in the same house in Jerseyville. All of the surviving children were taken into protective custody by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Attorneys for Michael and Georgena Roberts have not responded to requests for comment.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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