Authorities in Butler, Georgia, found an adopted fifteen-year-old girl allegedly abused by her homeschooling parents and forced to live in chicken coop (video) as well as an outhouse for several days, while wearing a shock collar. Her parents claim they were doing what the Bible says and fed the girl nothing but bread and water for days.
At first, authorities did not find the shock collar, but they did find a receipt for it. After the police arrested her parents, Debra and Samuel Franklin, investigators found the collar allegedly used on the girl. Authorities are checking it for DNA.
According to the girl, who was adopted in 2009, her parents used the collar several times on her while they forced her to live in the chicken coop. She told authorities that her abuse began as fast as they adopted her and that her parents used a remote control, similar to the ones used for dogs.
Diana Franklin is facing 12 counts of cruelty to children and 4 counts of false imprisonment. Samuel Franklin has been charged with 8 counts of cruelty to children and 8 counts of false imprisonment.
Neighbors observed the girl working in the yard in extreme heat, while the rest of the family watched.
"I've seen her out working in the gardens, digging ditches in the hot sun with two or three older boys watching her. I've seen her toting rocks up the road – she looked like she was in rough shape, "said Steven Balis.
David Spellers also saw the girl working in the hot sun as the rest of her family watched.
"I saw her when she was out in the yard working in that garden out there and I saw her around picking up trash in the yard," Spillers said.
Another neighbor who did not want to go on camera told us that Diana Franklin would often punish her daughter for not doing chores and working the "right way."
The neighbor said that Diana Franklin would only feed her daughter bread and water as punishment for days on end. The neighbor says that Diana Franklin told her that she was "doing what the Bible says."
"Mrs. Franklin hasn't denied none of it and I know it there is no doubt in my mind that she was mistreating that girl," Spillers said.
The juvenile court custody hearing took place on Thursday morning.
“I’ve never seen anything like this personally,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Wayne Smith explained. “If the allegations prove to be true, it’s a very severe case.”
The chicken coop, which also served as an outhouse, was four feet in length and width, and did not stand very high, Smith said.
"It was just big enough to sit in," Smith said.
Smith stated that after they removed the girl from the house, she began to open up to investigators, telling her story of what her parents did to her.
"Kind of what has happened is within a few hours of being taken out of that environment, a lot of this began to flow very freely," Smith said. "You almost have to remove the person from the threat of punishment before they begin to open up to you. That's normal, and that's what has happened here."
According to Smith, authorities did not answer questions about Thursday’s court hearing.
The girl lived with another sibling and two other children lived away from the home. The other three children are not involved in the child abuse case.
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