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North Carolina Parents Arrested After 9-Year-Old Boy Found In Dog Cage Outside Home

Davidson County, North Carolina deputies found the 9-year-old son of Jonathan Starr in a padlocked dog kennel outside a home owned by Starr's aunt, Shelley Barnes, that the three shared with the boy's four siblings and his stepmother, Sarah Starr.

By Dorian Geiger
Tragic and Disturbing Cases of Child Abuse

Three North Carolina family members have been jailed after authorities discovered a 9-year-old boy locked in a dog cage in their backyard last month.

Sarah Lynette Starr, 30, Jonathan Scott Starr, 32, and Shelley Lucille Barnes, 56, were booked into a Davidson County jail on multiple child abuse and neglect charges after a youngster in their care was rescued by deputies, who allegedly found him in a padlocked dog kennel outside the family’s Lexington, North Carolina home.

The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip from an unidentified caller on Oct. 19 claiming that a boy, aged 9 or 10, had been locked in a dog cage overnight at a property in the 100 block of Cress Road in Lexington — about 20 miles south of Winston-Salem.

Upon arrival at the property, deputies found a 9-year-old shivering and unable to speak inside a dog kennel that was secured with a padlock.

A group of Police Cars

“Deputies forced entry into the dog kennel and rushed the child to EMS personnel who arrived on the scene to assist,” Davidson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “Due to exigent circumstances, deputies then forced entry into the residence.”

Once inside the home, authorities located Jonathan Starr and Sarah Starr, who were identified as the child’s biological father and stepmother, respectively, CBS affiliate WBTV reported. A search warrant was later executed at the home, which ultimately resulted in the couple’s arrest. 

Sarah Starr and Jonathan Starr now face several separates counts of negligence, child abuse and false imprisonment charges. 

Barnes, the child’s great-aunt, was identified as a the homeowner where the alleged abuse occurred. She faces felony and misdemeanor child abuse charges, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a felon and maintaining a dwelling place for controlled substance, county authorities said. 

The 9-year-old was taken to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem. He was released the same day after medical staff evaluated him. 

Two other children were found unharmed at the property. Two additional children in the couple’s custody were in school at the time authorities descended on the family’s home. All five have since been placed in the custody of Davidson County Social Services.

The Starrs are each being held on a $1 million bond and Barnes on a $300,000 bond, PEOPLE.come reported. They were scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

No other information was readily available on Friday afternoon. The child abuse investigation remains open and active. Oxygen.com has reached out to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office for comment.

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