A Pennsylvania monster and his fiancée fatally starved his 12-year-old son, who was kept locked away in a feces-covered room for years, prosecutors allege.
Scott Schollenberger Jr., 42, and Kimberly Maurer, 35, are charged with homicide and child endangerment in the death of Maxwell Schollenberger, whose naked, emaciated body was found on May 26 inside the couple’s Anneville home, PennLive.com reports.
“This tiny 12-year-old boy never knew the unconditional love from a family,” Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf told reporters at a press conference Monday. “Max Schollenberger existed. I will not call this living. He existed in a state of perpetual suffering.”
Graf said the abuse lasted years at the family’s home, where Max was kept in an empty, darkened room with the doors and windows locked shut.
The boy never received medical care or went to school, Graf said.
“By the time of his death, he was in that room 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” the district attorney said.
The couple, who have three other young children who were not malnourished or abused, provided medical care and schooling for them while telling Max’s siblings to “ignore him and not to talk to him,” Graf said.
An autopsy found that the boy weighed just 47.5 pounds, or roughly half the average weight of a child his age. His death was attributed to blunt force head trauma complicating starvation/malnutrition, Graf said.
Scott Schollenberger is the boy’s biological father, while Maurer acted as his mother for the past decade. Both admitted to investigators that they used three metal hooks to lock Max inside his room, Graf said.
“The utter despair that was Max Schollenberger’s life begs for justice for his death,” the district attorney said in a statement.
Graf said she could not discuss a motive in the boy’s abuse that led to his death. The couple’s other children are now in the care of Lebanon County child welfare officials, PennLive.com reports.
Those children told investigators they “hardly ever” saw Max before he died, according to the website.
“Some of [Schollenberger’s and Maurer’s] family and friends also reported not seeing the victim in quite some time and some were not even aware of his existence,” Lebanon County detectives wrote.
Both Schollenberger and Maurer remain held without bail at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility. Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against the couple because it’s not legally allowed under the circumstances of the case, PennLive.com reports.
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