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Police Charge Mom, Grandparents Of Starving, Beaten Child Who Ate Insects To Survive

GREENVILLE, Pa. (KDKA/AP) - A Mercer County mother and grandparents are facing a long list of charges after a young boy was found beaten and nearly starved to death, reportedly capturing and eating insects for nourishment.

The 7-year-old was discovered by child welfare workers last month at the family's home in Greenville. Described as looking like a human skeleton, the boy weighed all of 25 pounds.

The boy's mother, 28-year-old Mary Rader, and his grandparents, 58-year-old Dennis C. Beighley and 47-year-old Deana Beighley, were arrested by West Salem Police.

They have been charged with assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment, endangering a child's welfare and conspiracy.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," said Peggy Miller, a neighbor.

Miller lives three doors down from the North Second Street home where the alleged abuse took place. A total of four children lived there, but the 7-year-old boy apparently was the only one police say was abused.

"I've only seen three out on the street, out by the sidewalk. Never seen a fourth child," Miller said.

According to police, Rader decided to homeschool the 7-year-old last year.

Investigators say the boy ate small amounts of tuna and resorted to eating bugs from the back porch that he could catch. When he tried to sneak food, investigators say he was beaten with a belt.

He was forced to take ice-cold showers as punishment - the only showers he was allowed - and had two abscessed teeth that had to be removed, police said.

The three other children were allowed to play on the front porch, as well as ride their bikes on the street. The 7-year-old, however, had to stay in the back, hidden from view.

KDKA's Ross Guidotti knocked on the front door of the home Saturday evening. There were people inside as he could hear them talking, but no one came to the door.

"They did leave a little bit ago and then came back," said Jenny Lambert, another neighbor. "Yeah, they're in the house, hiding out."

The little boy was taken to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh where he is making progress.

In a statement, Jennifer Wolford of UPMC Children's Hospital Child Advocacy Center, said: "The most important medicine used to treat him at the hospital was food. He was within a month of having a major cardiac event that he probably would not have recovered from."

Wolford described it as the worst case of medical neglect that the hospital's doctors have encountered.

The mother and the grandparents are free on bond. They face a preliminary hearing later this month.

Meanwhile, the three other children that were in the home have been removed and are being cared for by Mercer County Child Protective Services.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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