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Florida Woman Melissa Doss Charged With Abuse For Keeping Autistic Girl In Cage

MELBOURNE (CBSMiami/CNN) - A central Florida woman accused of keeping a severely autistic child in a cage has been arrested.

Melissa Doss, 42, faces charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect.

Over the weekend, her neighbors called 9-1-1 to report a young child had climbed over their privacy fence and was on their screened-in patio. Police say the girl was non-verbal with a disability.

Doss reportedly told police she was unaware the child had escaped from home.

Investigators also learned, in the house, the girl slept in a "...homemade cage made of metal and wood..."

According to Doss' arrest report, she told police she, "shuts and traps her inside at night to keep her inside the house."

The report also said in the morning, the child would scream until she was let out of the cage.

Palm Bay police officers reported deplorable conditions within the house, "...the immediate smell of feces and urine was strongly present" and "trash, bugs of all kinds, spiders, and flies" throughout the house, and no part of the floor was visible throughout the house.

They noted that parts of the roof were gone, there was mold throughout the house, and no working bathrooms.

Doss appeared before a judge on Monday.

A child protective investigator said Doss and another child shared a bed. The cage was next to it with a blanket and pillow for the girl.

The judge set Doss' bond at $20 thousand.

(©2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

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