February 28, 2021 23:50

Four charged after boy found in cage, malnourished with signs of physical abuse

Katie Bernard

The Kansas City Star

A month after a severely malnourished child arrived at a southwest Missouri hospital, detectives say they believe the child was kept in a cage. Four people have been criminally charged.

Dessa A. Barton, 26, W Dalton McLendon, 26, Katherine Kost, 53, and Richard A. Hilliker, 52, are each charged with two counts of first degree endangerment of the welfare of a child and one count of abuse or neglect of a child, according to court documents.

A news released posted on the Stone County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page Friday said the charges stem from the alleged treatment of a 4-year-old whom authorities found unresponsive while responding to a 911 call at a home in Billings, Missouri, on Nov. 6. Billings is approximately 18 miles southwest of Springfield.

The call launched a month-long investigation.

The child, who was air lifted to a Kansas City hospital, “suffered various injuries that were consistent with physical abuse” and extreme malnutrition, the sheriff’s office said.

Later in the month, the post said, officers returned to the home where the child was found and recovered a wooden crate made of pallets.

“The investigation led Detectives to believe the crate was used to cage the victim for extended periods of time,” the post said.

Each defendant is being held in the Stone County Jail at $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 22.

The post provided no detail regarding the child’s current condition.

The Stone County Sheriff could not be immediately reached for questions.

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©2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

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