A 12-year old boy was found beaten, starved to death and covered in faeces in his family’s home.
Maxwell Schollenberger was locked in a bare, unlit room with its blinds and windows nailed shut.
The youngster existed in a state of “perpetual suffering” for a long period, according to a Pennsylvania prosecutor.
He never received medical care and never went to school, Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf told reporters.
There was no furniture in the unlit second-floor bedroom except a filthy mattress. Maxwell was so weak that he could not walk or even stand when he died.
The boy was so malnourished that he could no longer digest food, and he died weighing just three stone.
DA Graf said that it would have required a long period of starvation for him to deteriorate into such a weakened state.
Max was only fed on table scraps, on the rare occasion that he was fed at all. He had also suffered a severe blow to the head and it was a combination of malnutrition and he’d trauma that led to his death.
Following homicide charges filed against Scott Schollenberger, 42 and his girlfriend Kimberly Maurer 35, DA Graf told a press conference: “This tiny 12-year-old boy never knew the unconditional love from a family.”
“I will not call this living. He existed in a state of perpetual suffering,” she said. “By the time of his death he was in that room 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Maxwell’s brothers and sisters “were told to ignore him and not talk to him,” DA Graf told reporters, adding that one of them told investigators they didn’t know he was there.
“Those children went to the doctor and those children went to school,” she said, “every other room (in Schollenberger home) was normal.
“There was an abundance of food…and that food went to every other person in the household, except for Max Schollenberger.”
She explained that there was nothing to alert neighbours or passers-by to the boy’s plight. Police were only called after Maurer mentioned the child’s death to a neighbour.
Maurer and Scott Schollenberger are now being held in Lebanon county prison without bail. The couple’s other children are now in the care of the county Children and Youth agency.
Scott Scholleberger was on bail from an unrelated assault charge at the time of his arrest, the DA said.
She added that the death penalty would not be sought against the couple because it is not legally permitted under the facts of this particular case.