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3 Charged in West Virginia in Connection with Twin Toddlers Padlocked in Feces-Covered Room, Fed Ground Beef Under Door

charged west virginia twin toddlers padlocked feces covered room
Source: West Virginia Department of Corrections

May 11 2023, Updated 1:21 p.m. ET

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A West Virginia mother, her husband and her boyfriend have all been arrested after allegedly locking 2-year-old twin boys in a feces-covered bedroom and feeding them ground beef and Cheerios under the door, according to authorities.

On May 8, Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger announced at a press conference that officers responded to a report of an unresponsive 2-year-old boy at an apartment in the Ripley area. The boy was eventually airlifted to Ruby Memorial.

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Medical staff determined the boy was suffering from renal failure and was in a state of severe malnutrition and dehydration with the sheriff saying it was a “dire” situation.

Investigators determined Lylee Gillenwater, 21, her boyfriend Brian Casto, 22, and her husband Michael Gillenwater, 24, locked the victim and his twin brother in a bedroom with a padlock for as long as six weeks at a time. Officials said the three suspects would medicate the twin boys to get them to sleep so they didn’t have to provide parental care.

The boys would often only be wearing a diaper and were fed pieces of ground beef and Cheerios under the door, Mellinger said. The neglect got so bad that one of the twins lost consciousness at some point.

Police said the bedroom was entirely covered in human feces, which made it almost impossible to walk around, WCHS-TV reported.

Child neglect
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The victim has a lot of “hurdles to clear medically,” but the other twin is reportedly in stable condition, according to Mellinger. There was an additional female child in the apartment who was removed safely.

The three suspects were arrested and booked into the West Virginia Department of Correction on $150,000 bail each.

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Michael was charged with two counts of child neglect with serious risk of injury or death and child neglect resulting in injury. Lylee was charged with two counts of child neglect resulting in injury. Casto was charged with one count of child abuse resulting in injury and one count of child abuse with risk of injury, officials said.

Child Protective Services took custody of the children, WCHS-TV reported.


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