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A Pennsylvania father has been jailed on a flurry of child abuse charges after authorities said he allegedly beat and buried his 6-year-old daughter alive in his yard.
John Edward Kraft, 50, has been charged with one count each of strangulation, false imprisonment of a minor and unlawful restraint of a minor. Additionally, he is charged with three counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment of another person.
In September, Greene County social workers allegedly discovered extensive bruising on a 6-year-old girl. The DA's office said that during an interview, the child told authorities that her father had buried her in a hole in the yard of their Waynesburg, Pennsylvania home for misbehaving.
Her account was corroborated by an older sibling, whom police also questioned. The incident left the 6-year-old smelling like sewage, according to the siblings' accounts.
Kraft would "bury her in the yard when he believes that she is lying," the girl told detectives, according to a criminal complaint cited by CBS' Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA-TV.
The 6-year-old's stepmother purportedly intervened on one occasion, and bathed the child after she was allegedly buried alive, KDKA reported.
"The allegations are that this child was beaten brutally, that the child had bruises all over her body, that she was choked to the point that she had passed out," Greene County District Attorney David Russo said to KDKA. "She was buried in a hole as punishment. She was thrown in a hole overnight. Her head was slammed off the wall and slammed off the floor. This is a barbaric situation."
The 6-year-old also claimed that her father would beat her with a belt, as well as his arm, which had a metal plate implanted inside of it, according to a statement from the DA's office.
Russo said the incident marked one of the most disturbing child abuse cases he’d encountered in his career.
"I would like to commend the Pennsylvania State Police on their swift and diligent efforts in their investigation and bringing this case to my immediate attention," Russo said in an emailed statement to Oxygen.com. "The allegations against the Defendant are barbaric and horrific and the 1st degree felony charges are appropriate."
"No child deserves to be treated this way and my office will concentrate our efforts with the Pennsylvania State Police to assure this investigation is fully completed and prepared for prosecution. My office has always taken a strong stance on crimes against children. I will be prosecuting this case myself to bring justice for the victim and do everything in my power to protect the children of our community. We will not tolerate child abuse in our county and this case will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Russo continued, adding, "The child was removed from the home and is currently in a safe place.”
Neighbors who lived near the family expressed alarm upon learning of Kraft’s arrest.
“He seemed alright,” James Fonner told WTAE-TV. “I thought his kids were real nice, you never think that. Why her?”
Kraft is being held on a $125,000 bond at a Greene County detention facility, though court records reviewed by Oxygen.com state that Kraft is unable to post bail. It’s unclear if he’s retained legal representation to comment on his behalf. He’s set to appear in court on Nov. 7.
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