An Illinois couple allegedly starved their 6-year-old son to death as punishment. The boy weighed just 17 pounds when he died of malnutrition last week, according to documents from the Jersey County, Illinois State’s Attorney obtained by People.
Police determined that the victim was “deprived of food by their father and stepmother as a form of punishment,” a police statement said. The parents, father Michael Roberts and stepmother Georgena Roberts, both 42, are also accused of starving the victim’s 7-year-old sibling. In all, six children lived with the Roberts.
Last week, Michael and Georgena were charged with first-degree murder and two counts each of endangering the life and health of a child. The Washington Post reports that the parents allegedly spent nearly two years withholding food from the boy.
Both parents are being held on bail set at $500,000 apiece. It is unclear if either has attorneys who can speak on their behalf. Their other children have been taken by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and put into protective custody.
In January of 2016, a call was made to a state agency hotline to report a lack of food for some children at the Roberts’ household, reports the Belleville News-Democrat. That call kicked off an investigation, which was soon halted.
“After a pediatric specialist concluded that the now-deceased child’s weight was a result of a medical condition, the investigation was closed as unfounded,” a statement said.
The Roberts potentially face up to 60 years in prison if they are found guilty.
[Photo: Jersey County State’s Attorney]