A couple has been charged after malnourished teen escapes from home.
An Ohio couple faces an array of felony charges after their malnourished 13-year-old son escaped from their home, according to law enforcement officials. When the teen boy was found, he weighed just 65 pounds, was very malnourished, and had to be hospitalized to regain his strength, Crawford County Prosecutor Matt Crall said, adding, “The child had a very strict vegan diet that basically consisted of almonds, bananas, and grapes. He had to have everything eaten in 30 minutes…The parents kept the boy under surveillance to keep him from eating anything else.”
According to court records, Parents John P. and Katrina Miller of Crestline were indicted by a Crawford County grand jury on “one count of kidnapping, a first degree felony; one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony; two felony counts of child endangerment, one second-degree, one third-degree; and a first-degree misdemeanor count of child endangerment.” Crall said, “If convicted on all counts, they face up to 22 years and 6 months in prison.”
John Miller, the boy’s biological father, also was indicted on a charge of “domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor,” stemming from allegations that “the father committed assault on the child when he wouldn’t eat the way they told him to eat,” Crall said. So, Miller faces an additional six months if convicted. The teen’s biological mother no longer has custody and Katrina Miller had adopted him.
“Normally, you don’t think of kidnapping as involving someone’s own child,” Crall said. “But when you knowingly restrain the liberty of another person for the purpose of terrorizing or to inflict serious physical harm – that’s what happened in this situation. That’s what we’re alleging; that we was kept there, he had attempted to flee once before, he was fleeing when he was found, and he was emaciated to the point of having been terrorized, and to the point where he’s going to be hospitalized for quite some time.” There was also a 3-year-old child in the home, and the teenager was being homeschooled.
“The felonious assault charge is for failing to provide nutrition,” Crall said, adding, “Normally, people don’t think of an assault as being a failure to do something, but the statute and the interpretation of it does include omitting doing a duty…which causes serious physical harm.”
The first-degree misdemeanor child endangerment charge concerns the 3-year-old. Crall explained, “The degree of harm was not as great. The child was underweight, but not in need of hospitalization.”
“Mr. Miller did not seem concerned with his child going to the hospital,” a Children’s Projective Service worker noted in the department’s investigative report.
It was rare for the teen to leave the home, and when he did, he was self-conscious and unable to tell anyone what was happening. “They did go to church,” Crall said. “The child was very self-conscious about the way he looked, and he would wear multiple sets of clothing to cover up the fact that he looked the way he did.”
Besides being treated for failure to thrive and malnutrition, the teen had refeeding syndrome when he was hospitalized. “It’s when the body rejects food just because it’s a foreign substance at that point,” Crall explained. “They’re not used to it, so they have to re-introduce food to the child.”