Couple accused of keeping malnourished children in locked room takes plea deal
OSCEOLA, Iowa — An Osceola couple facing child endangerment charges accepted a plea deal Monday, KCCI reports.
Court documents show 42-year-old Kenneth Fry and 40-year-old Kelly Fry kept two of their children locked in a room subdivided by wood and kept plastic buckets for the children to use as a toilet.
They were charged with child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor; child endangerment causing bodily injury, a class D felony; and neglect or abandonment of a dependent person, a class C felony.
As part of a plea deal, Kenneth and Kelly Fry have agreed to plead guilty to two counts of child endangerment.
They will be sentenced May 23 at 9:30 a.m. at the Clarke County Courthouse.
The couple faces a prison sentence not to exceed two years, and a $6,250 fine.
A joint investigation between the Osceola Police Department and the Iowa Department of Human Services that began in January resulted in the couple’s arrests.
Court documents indicate the couple had seven children, and two of them had been adopted from Ghana, one age 8 and one age 9. The two children had been home-schooled.
Investigators said the other five children had typical and age-appropriate bedrooms, while the two adopted children shared a bedroom that had been subdivided into two rooms made of wood. The wooden rooms were lined entirely in plastic, with alarmed doors.
Investigators said the rooms were bare, containing only a plastic mat, a blanket and a small shelf on the wall. There were no other furnishings or personal items in the rooms, other than a plastic bucket for the adopted children to use as a toilet, investigators said.
Kelly Fry told investigators the couple had decided to construct those rooms for the adopted children due to their bad behavior.
She indicated both children would defecate and urinate in their room. She said the alarms were added because the children would sneak out and steal food and steal from other family members.
She also told investigators the children chose to use the buckets, over the bathroom facilities in the home.
Court documents indicate both children were removed from the home and placed with relatives in January. The two children told investigators that they were required to spend a majority of their day isolated in their bedrooms.
Though they were not locked in their rooms, they said the doors were alarmed and they would be disciplined if they did leave. The children told investigators the discipline was generally forced exercise.
The children told investigators they ate oatmeal almost exclusively for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while the other children in the home had no such restrictions. One of the children told investigators she sneaked out of the room for food because she was hungry.
A physical examination of the children revealed that both children exhibited signs of being malnourished, as both had leveled off on growth charts. The 8-year-old child was under the 10th percentile for weight and under the 1 percentile for height.
She was observed to have a distended belly, which is consistent with malnutrition. She weighed 50 pounds and was 56 inches tall.
The 9-year-old child weighed 69 pounds and was 53 inches tall. He had also leveled off on the growth chart, for both height and weight. Officials determined he suffered child neglect and nutritional neglect.
Since being removed from the Fry’s residence and being placed with relatives, investigators say the children have not exhibited the behaviors Kelly Fry claimed. Three months later, both children have gained weight and are engaged in therapy and services.
Kenneth and Kelly Fry were charged with child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor; child endangerment causing bodily injury, a class D felony; and neglect or abandonment of a dependent person, a class C felony.
Authorities removed the two adoptive children from the home in January.